There's a new coach and mostly new players, but the sense of deja vu is sickening around Memorial Coliseum.
It won't matter how many players they bring in or how well they play on the road if the Fort Wayne Komets can't figure out how to put teams away at home. Just like last year, their inability to find consistency at home is killing their season.
The Komets are 7-6-7 at home after Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to Elmira. For the fourth time this season, they turned a 3-0 lead into a loss, this time with the momentum collapsing in the final minutes of the second period.
``They reality is the second period is what cost us this game,'' an irate Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``We cut corners. We know exactly the way we need to play against Elmira. We can't give them stuff off the rush, and what did they do? The exact same thing.
``We've seen the film over and over again... We know exactly how to play against this team and we got away from the gameplan.''
The Komets beat the Jackals two of three last weekend in Elmira, had won three of their last four and were hoping to build a hot streak. Instead, they are starting over, still stuck in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings.
``I think we beat ourselves,'' Komets captain Kaleigh Schrock said. ``We didn't manage the puck properly. We know they are a team that if we play our game, the only way they can beat us is if we turn the puck over and let them create chances on the rush. That's exactly what we did.''
Former Komet Mike Vaskivuo scored a goal and two assists and was plus-3 on the night, going head-to-head against the two players he was traded for, Christian Ouellet and Matt Carter, centered by Kenton Miller.
``That's the thing with this team,'' Graham said. ``If we want to stick to the gameplan and execute, we can beat any team on any given night, but if we start cutting corners, we leave ourselves vulnerable and that's exactly what happened.''
It didn't help they also gave up another soft goal, something they continue to do at the most critical times in games. This time it was the tying goal in the third period as Jakub Culek somehow lifted the puck over Komets netminder Ben Meisner at 7:34 of the third period.
The Komets had done a great job defensively in the period to that point, holding Elmira to only one shot, but it didn't matter. The game-winner game from Dane Walters in overtime as he popped free right in front from 20 feet. Meisner never had a chance.
The truly odd thing about this team is that the Komets are a very respectable 11-8-2 on the road where they don't have 7,500 fans waiting to cheer them on. Even Meisner is 4-0 on the road and now 0-2-2 at home. They are 6-6 at home when leading after two periods, and have yet to win more than two straight home games all season.
Are they just better at sticking to the gameplan on the road?
``I don't think we're better at playing it, I just think for whatever reason when we get a three-goal lead, it doesn't go well for us,'' Schrock said. ``Whatever it is, if guys think it's point night or they try to get too creative, I think that's the problem. A lot of times we get up at home, we play great at home, but then we don't know how to handle playing with the lead. That's unacceptable.''
There are 15 home games remaining.