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Could the ECHL please tweak the schedule

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Komets notes: Odd overtime, shootout choices

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 3:17 am

It's always too easy to complain about the schedule as it is the officiating. It has to be made up months in advance, depends on travel and building availability and a million little details, but how about a little change that might make it better for the fans and teams?

Wouldn't it make sense to begin the schedule with playing the division rivals 10 times each, five at home and five on the road? That would be 40 games for each team in the Northern Division which would match the current total. The problem is that this year the Komets play at its closest rival, Toledo, only three times this season and Evansville visits Memorial Coliseum only three times and Cincinnati only four times.

As a comparison, the Komets play at Elmira five times and at Florida three times this season. They also host Florida four times and Reading and Wheeling three times. Shouldn't their division rivals play in Fort Wayne more often than teams from other divisions?

Tweaking the schedule to focus on division rivalries would probably create problems with the three-team Atlantic Division, but the benefits would be encouraging more fans to travel to road games, such as Fort Wayne fans visiting Toledo and Cincinnati, and better familiarity with opposing players among diehard home fans.

Roster changes

Komets goaltender John Muse has been called up to Charlotte of the American Hockey League, and the Komets have received right wing Shawn Szydlowski from Rochester of the American Hockey League. The Komets also recalled goaltender Max Strang from Bloomington of the Southern Professional Hockey league to back up Cody Reichard this weekend. Center Jake Hauswirth has been waived.

That looked odd

When the Komets and Toledo Walleye started playing overtime last Saturday night, the Komets began with a 4-on-3 power play which carried over from regulation. The ECHL uses 4-on-4 during the extra session, but the Komets were continuing a power play from regulation so as the penalties ended, it became a 5-on-3 and then a 5-on-4. When the power play was over, the teams played 5-on-5 until the clock stopped for a whistle, and then they finished the overtime playing 4-on-4.

Always shoot first

There's been some question about why the Komets chose to shoot first in Saturday's shootout.

``I'm a coach who always likes to shoot first, I want to be aggressive and go after it,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``I want to be ultra-confident in that moment. I don't want guys to be nervous. I want to go right after it and try to set the tone.''

It's also true, as it was Saturday night, that the team which scores first in shootouts usually wins. Since the Komets started using shootouts in the mid-1980s, the team that scores first in Fort Wayne games with shootouts wins 75 percent of the outcomes.

Attendance deficit disorder

Saturday's crowd of 9,676 was the Komets' smallest for a home-opener since the Memorial Coliseum was renovated in 2002 and the first opening crowd under 10,000 fans since then. The Komets have lost their last four home-openers.

It was still the biggest opening-night crowd in the ECHL this season, and several players said they could feel the difference.

``It was a good nervous,'' forward Tristan King said. ``Guys were anxious to get out there. I've never played in front of a home opener that big. It gave us a little bit of a push, and I think it was a factor in our comeback there.''

Best of luck

Of the players who tried out for the Komets but did not make the roster, several players found new teams in a hurry. In the Central Hockey League, Kyle Bochek signed with Tulsa, Paul McIlveen with Arizona and Matthew Larke with Rapid City. The Southern Professional Hockey League's Bloomington, coached by Fort Wayne-native Brian Gratz, has signed Kevin Walrod, William Lacasse, Darick Ste-Marie and Max Strang. Keegan Flaherty signed with Pensacola of the SPHL

Icing the puck

Former Komet Tristen Llewellyn was named the Central Hockey League's Player of the Week on Monday after the defenseman scored a goal and five points in two games for Rapid City... Though Komets practices at Memorial Coliseum are closed to the public, the team his holding an open house for season-ticket holders from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Lutheran Health SportsCenter... With seven players who have yet to play a full season at the Class AA minor league level, this Komets' team is younger by two years per man than last year's team. However, there's still quite a bit of experience as eight players have played significant time (at least 10 games) in the American Hockey League.