The Fort Wayne Komets have less than a week to get ready for their biggest games of the season.
After Saturday's 2-1 overtime win at South Carolina, the Komets loaded the bus for the ride home and to start preparations for Friday and Saturday's games against Florida. The Komets are tied for ninth in the ECHL's Eastern Conference, one spot out of playoff position. The Komets have 61 points in 60 games, Kalamazoo has 61 in 57 games and Florida holds the final playoff spot with 66 points in 58 games. Elmira holds seventh with 67 points in 57 games.
The tough part for the Komets is Kalamazoo plays at Wheeling today and Elmira plays at Greenville. Elmira also plays at Wheeling on Wednesday and at Trenton on Thursday, and Florida plays at Cincinnati on Wednedsay. The Komets are idle until Friday's game.
There are 12 games remaining in the regular season, and the Komets might need points out of all of them because of the games in hand the other teams have. They also need to get on a hot streak.
A night after dropping a 2-1 decision in a shootout to South Carolina, the Komets came back on Saturday and won 2-1 in overtime. Defenseman Nick Schaus scored four minutes into the extra session off assists from Colin Chaulk and Thomas Beauregard.
``Chaulker took it up the right side, pulled up just inside their blue line and drifted one over to Schausie who blasted a one-timer through the goaltender,'' Komets coach Al Sims said in a phone interview. ``We have a week to recover. We left it all out there, that's for sure.''
It was another goaltending duel, as South Carolina's Ryan Zapolski made 29 saves, and the Komets' Jeff Deslauriers 25.
Asked how he felt his team played this weekend, Sims said, ``About as well as we could. I don't think we can play any better. Any time you get three out of four points against the top goalie in the league, it's a good thing.''
The Komets are undefeated in three games for the first time since Nov. 9 when they were in the midst of a 7-2-1 start.
Deslauriers has carried them the last six games, going 3-1-1 in his last five with a 1.61 goals against average and .945 save percentage. The Komets have scored only 2.26 goals per game over their last 23 games since Jan. 2. They are 13-11-1 over that stretch, including 9-2 when they score three or more goals.
The Komets also brought back some help from the South as defensemen Schaus and Gabe Guentzel returned with the team after being send to the Komets from Norfolk of the American Hockey League on Friday. Schaus scored two goals in the two games in Charleston. The Komets are hoping the pair is still here for next weekend's games.
``We've got 12 games left, and we've got to do whatever we can to get as many points as possible,'' Sims said.
It's going to be a sprint to the finish.
Klotz arrested and released
Komets forward Garrett Klotz was arrested at 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Charleston and charged with misdemeanors for congregating for unlawful purposes and resisting arrest. Klotz and some teammates were eating at a local restaurant when the incident happened.
``It was disorderly conduct and resisting arrest,'' Komets General Manager David Franke said. ``He got out (Friday) and there was no bond or bail that has to be paid. Our attorney locally down here is handling it. There were no punches thrown, and Garett was not drunk.''
Franke said Klotz and the other Komets, he did not know how many, were preparing to leave when there was an incident between Klotz and some other patrons.
``They weren't out beyond curfew,'' Franke said. ``They have a right to eat when they are out. Garrett got into some trouble and now he's got that going. It's just unfortunate, but I'm sure it will never ever happen again to him in his life. He's very sorry for what happened, he regrets it and we'll move on. ''
Klotz remained with the team but did not play in either weekend game because of an ankle injury, Franke said.