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Komets keeping busy despite season closing out

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Online

For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

Up next
Komets at Kalamazoo
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM

Loss to Toledo shows some bright spots

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 5:42 am

For a team with less than a week before the players head home for the summer, the Fort Wayne Komets sure have a lot going on.

The Komets lost 3-2 to Toledo on Wednesday night, meaning they have to win their final two games Friday and Saturday against Kalamazoo or they'll finish their first ECHL season and their first season since 1997 with a losing record.

That's important, but there was a lot going on off the ice, too.

First, the team announced WOWO broadcaster Bob Chase is returning for his 61st season next year. Komets president Michael Franke said Chase is expected to call 95 percent of the team's games next year, depending on the ECHL schedule.

Chase turned 87 in January and received the Lester Patrick Award from USA Hockey and the National Hockey League for service to the sport in the United States in November.

Also, before the game, the Komets signed rookie Lindsay Sparks from the University of Michigan and released rookie J.P. Labardo from his tryout contract. Labardo has the flu, but he'll sign a regular contract to play Friday and Saturday if he's feeling better and if he can get across the Canadian border today to get his immigration papers updated.

The Komets also announced they'll hold their annual season-ending party and jersey auction Tuesday evening at Memorial Coliseum.

Then they played the game, and afterward center J.M. Rizk was told he's being recalled to Norfolk of the American Hockey League for the third time this season. The AHL's regular season lasts two weeks longer than the ECHL.

As for the actual game, the Komets fought back to tie on a power-play goal by Jamie Milam with 13:04 left in regulation, but rookie defenseman Mathieu Gagnon let Toledo's Kyle Rogers get between him and goaltender Charlie Effinger to score the game-winning goal with 4:32 remaining.

After sitting out significant time recently, Effinger continued to play well for the third straight game. He's got a 2.60 goals-against average and .919 save percentage during five March games, and credits veteran goaltender Jeff Deslauriers with some of his improvement.

``It's almost like I hit the reset button again,'' Effinger said. ``It's been a challenge around our net at times this year. When Desi came in and played really well, I got to watch him and learn some things from him. He's essentially like a goaltending coach with me.

``I've never played with an older pro, a guy with that much experience, who cares about a guy with less experience like he does. Honestly, it's been a privilege and awesome to see what someone else does well, work on it and try and bring that into my game.''

The Komets are also probably wondering what might have been had they been able to sign Matt Syroczynski much earlier than Jan. 24. He's continuing to make his bid for a veteran contract next year by scoring his fifth goal in the last five games to give him nine in only 25 games this season. He has six goals and 11 points over his last 10 games.

``I'm starting to hit my stride getting those rebounds,'' Syroczynski said. ``I wish I had a couple of more months to go. Unfortunately, you just do what you can the last two here and use that for next year.''