For the first time since 2002, the Fort Wayne Komets' season will end at the completion of the regular-season schedule on Saturday.
The Komets finish with a home-and-home doubleheader against Kalamazoo starting tonight at Wings Stadium. The final home game starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and will include the end-of-season player awards afterward.
Because management has promised massive changes for next season, this will also be the last chance to see many players wearing a Komets uniform.
It was trickier than normal picking some of post-season awards recently. Only the players get to vote on the Most Valuable Player, but here's how I voted on most of the award categories:
Most valuable player: Brandon Marino. He's been the most consistent player all year in terms of offense and effort.
Unsung hero: Nick Wheeler. What a revelation the rookie has been. A smaller player who doesn't back down, he also played forward and defense effectively.
Defensive forward: J.M. Rizk. There was a stretch when the team was struggling where he almost single-handedly pulled them out of it with his forecheck.
Best defenseman: Tyler Butler. No defenseman was asked to do more, and the younger defensemen all say the veteran helped them the most.
Mr. Hustle: Brandon Marino. Whenever he got into trouble with penalties, it was usually because he was trying too hard. Not a bad problem to have.
Rookie of the year: Kenny Reiter. The goaltender wasn't here at the end of the season, but he'll be what everyone remembers the most about this year.
Wiegmann Family True Komet: Brett Smith. He stood up for his teammates and himself inside the locker room and on the ice all season.
Most Improved Player: Ryan Hegarty. The rookie continually got better throughout the season to the point where he was one of the team's top blue liners.
Since I make the selection for the Bud Gallmeier Award for community service and exemplifying the spirit of the Komets, I did not include that selection in these picks. The player who wins that award was not one of my selections for another award.