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Komets facing challenge of defending ECHL champions

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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.

Up next
Reading at Komets
Face-off: 8 p.m.
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM

Fort Wayne defending three-game winning streak against Reading

Friday, November 22, 2013 - 3:11 am

Only 11 games into the season and facing a three-game weekend, it's tough to get overly excited for one game, but the Komets will have a little extra adrenalin tonight. The defending ECHL Kelly Cup champions are coming to town as the Reading Royals will challenge the Komets at 8 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum.

``You take every game as another opportunity,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``Yes, this is the defending champs, but for us this is a good benchmark for our team. It's a good chance to see if we are continuing to make that slow, steady climb in the right direction.''

After a 2-4-2 start, the Komets have won three straight. They haven't been the smoothest efforts, but they have been three wins, two coming in overtime and one in the final minutes.

``Regardless of them being defending champs, we're trying to get a season on a role here,'' captain Nick Tuzzolino said. ``We've had three wins in a row but they've been three really tight games. We'd like to play a full 60 minutes and not see it come down to the last five minutes in the third. We'd like to get a lead and actually put a team away. Our goal for this weekend is to play a full 60 minutes and if we do that we'll get the outcome we want.''

The Royals started the week with the Atlantic Division lead and a 4-1 road record. Riley Gill is one of the ECHL's best goaltenders, and Reading is excellent on special teams.

``It's going to be a good opportunity for us to see where we're at and match up against teams outside our division,'' Graham said. ``We definitely have to focus on the penalty kill. They have some very skilled and deadly guys. We have to understand what kind of looks they are trying to get and try to take those opportunities away.''

The Komets have the ECHL's second-best penalty killing unit at 91.5 percent, including 95.2 percent at home. Reading has yet to give up a power-play goal on the road in 18 chances.

The Royals allow only 2.09 goals per game against, the second-best mark in the league, holding teams to only 23.73 shots per game. The Komets rank second in the league at 35 shots per game.