``I believe this league is a little bit better because the goaltending is better and the depth, but I still believe AA is AA,'' center Brett Smith said at the Komets' season-ending party and jersey auction Tuesday night. ``The hockey isn't a whole lot different, but the depth is a little bit better. In the CHL the style of game is a little bit more controlled, while this is quicker.''
Maybe that's because there are more younger players in the ECHL and more veterans in the CHL.
``I think the goaltending is better and guys work a little bit harder every night in the ECHL,'' forward Kaleigh Schrock said. ``When you have the chance to go to the next level, there's more incentive to work harder every night. It's still AA hockey, but the goaltending is better and the players are a little bit hungrier and the speed is better. In the CHL, it was slower and more about controlling the puck, and the ECHL was a lot more like college hockey and run and gun.''
Most of the players said they didn't think this Komets team, which didn't make the ECHL playoffs, would have fared any better in the CHL this season.
``We had a lot of young guys who had a lot to learn,'' center J.M. Rizk said. ``I don't think you can really compare this year to last year's teams with all the veterans we had last year.''
Thomas Beauregard, whose Wichita team the Komets beat in last year's President Cup Finals in the CHL, also didn't think this team would have had a much better record this year in the CHL.
``It was just a bad year in general, just a year you want to forget,'' Beauregard said.
Charlie Effinger also played against the Komets in the playoffs last year with Missouri. He and the Mavericks fought the Komets through seven games in the semifinals.
``I know last year's team that we played against was a good team,'' Effinger said. ``That group really bought in, and you could sense it when we played against them. They were all on the same page.
``There was a lot of good players here this year. Were they healthy? Not always.
Did they get called up and down? We struggled to put it together, and I don't know how that would have translated to the Central League. It just didn't come together like we'd have liked it to.''
Maybe the biggest difference between the leagues is in the definition.
``I think AA hockey is AA hockey, but there's youth and speed in this league and the CHL is more veterans and established players who have played well in this league already and maybe have moved on in their careers,'' defenseman Jamie Milam said. ``I feel like anybody who plays in the CHL can play in this league, but this is just the developmental league so you get younger players. The reason you play in the coast is to go to the next level, and in the CHL you are there to play in one place.''
OnlineFor more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog, www.tailingthekomets.com.
Jersey auction results
Brandon Marino and J.M. Rizk, $1,500; Jeff Deslauriers and Charlie Effinger, $1,000; Marco Cousineau and Kaleigh Schrock, $950; Thomas Beauregard and Matt Firman, $750; Colin Chaulk, $700; Nick Schaus and Brett Smith, $650; Tyler Butler and Nick Wheeler, $600; Ryan Hegarty, $550; Jamie Milam, $500; Garrett Klotz, $450; Matt Syroczynski and Mathieu Gagnon, $400; Lindsay Sparks and Eric Giosa, $350; Scott Kishel, $250.
Specialty items: Al Sims and Colin Chaulk picture by John Rothwell $225; three black-and-white Cheryl Iddings photos $775; 2012-13 Tina Mohr scrapbook $275.