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How did the Komets show up in a Minnesota bank ad?

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

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Komets notes: Family history, early coaching struggles and who's hot?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 10:36 am

Thanks to their six-decade history, the Fort Wayne Komets have shown up in some odd places over the years, but how about a commercial for a bank – in Minnesota?

Now living in Florida, former Komets player and coach Ron Ullyot came across an advertisement called “The Bank That Comes To Play – Frandsen Bank & Trust.” The 15-second commercial features archival highlights of the Komets playing the Muskegon Zephyrs from the late 1950s.

"Most bank ads are pretty lame in terms of being predictable and the message,'' said Frandsen Director of Marketing Bob McElrath. "We wanted to find something unique, and our production guy was quite resourceful.''

McElrath asked independent video producer Doug Warkenthien to find some hockey video. Warkenthien started by researching old NHL video but that was too expensive, so someone suggested he call the Komets for help.

``We had to process a lot of it and sharpen each frame individually,'' Warkenthien said. ``It's probably 20 generations of video down by now. It's fun to keep that kind of thing alive.''

Among the Komets players are Eddie Long, Len Thornson, Joe Kastelic, Ivan Prediger and Lionel Repka.

Trivia question

This is kind of an easy one if you've been paying attention in recent seasons, but how many father-son combinations have been involved with the Komets? The answer can be found later in the story.

Early struggles

Looking back at past records, it appears Gary Graham is in some excellent company as some of the best coaches in Komets history struggled early during their first season.

A look at records of first-year Fort Wayne coaches shows that Al Sims began his coaching career 4-6 in 1989-90 and started 3-2-2 when he came back in 2007-08. Dave Farrish was 5-5 in 1995-96; Greg Puhalski was 4-6 in 2000-01; Grant Sonier, Ron Ullyot and Bruce Boudreau all started 4-4-2; and Gregg Pilling was 3-3-4.

What's interesting is that almost all of those coaches eventually led their teams to more than 40 wins that season and Sims won a franchise-record 56 in 2007-08. Sims, Boudreau, Farrish and John Torchetti eventually became NHL coaches.

Relationship questions

You might have been tempted to answer our trivia question with Rick Pepin (Komets 1978-81) and current defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin, but they are not father and son.

"He talked to me opening night, but we don't know each other,'' Danis-Pepin said. "I asked my old man about it and he said no. I don't think we are related as far as I know, but my grandfather had I think 17 brothers and sisters. Maybe there's a cousin in there.''

Both men are also from Montreal, and Pepin attended the Komets' opening-night game, which may have added further confusion, which leads to another story.

When he played here, Rick Pepin struggled to speak English. At the time, Pepin was dating North Side High School graduate Beth Watson and wanted to pick out a greeting card for her. He found the perfect one; it had flowers on the front and said, “Thinking of You.” Pepin bought the card and was proud to give it to Watson, who read the inside: “While you are ill.” She didn't have the heart to tell him what the inside said, but was touched by the fact that he bought her the card. They later married and are still.

So the answer to the trivia question is Bob Phillips (1981-82) and Bobby Phillips (2009-11) who still lives in Fort Wayne. You also might consider longtime Komets coach, general manager and owner Ken Ullyot and his son Ron, who played with the Komets from 1968 to 1975 and coached the team from 1981 to 1985.

During their 62-year history, the Komets have also had an uncle-and-nephew combination in Ron and Mike Burman, a grandfather-and-grandson duo in Reggie Primeau and Ryan Potts, and quite a few pairs of brothers.

Icing the puck

The Komets have released defenseman Kyle Follmer, who has been unable to play because of a pulled groin. ... Defenseman Jace Coyle has been particularly hot of late, scoring seven points in his last six games, and ranks second among ECHL defensemen in points. ... The only other ECHL team that has not won at home yet is Greenville, which comes to Fort Wayne on Saturday. The Road Warriors enter the week 4-3 on the road. ... Not one ECHL team is undefeated at home, but Reading, Cincinnati, Evansville, South Carolina and Florida have not been beaten in regulation on the road, and three other teams enter the week with only one road loss. In fact, road teams are 50-44-7 so far. ... Despite a 6.7 percent effectiveness at home, the Komets' power-play ranks sixth in the league standings, and their penalty kill ranks fourth. ... Mickey Lang ranks third in the ECHL with seven goals. ... Scott Fleming ranks third among rookies with 10 points. ... The Komets will wear military-themed jerseys in each game this weekend. The jerseys will be auctioned to the highest bidders during a silent auction held during the games and will benefit the Veterans Airlift Command. ... The team's annual Tip-A-Komet night to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Applebee's on North Clinton Street.