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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Komets notes: Chaulk helps Beast rebound from slow start

<p>News-Sentinel photo by Blake Sebring</p> <p>Komets forward Kyle Thomas, shown here scoring recently against Kalamazoo, is one of the players Komets coach Gary Graham said has been playing well during the team's recent slump</p>

News-Sentinel photo by Blake Sebring

Komets forward Kyle Thomas, shown here scoring recently against Kalamazoo, is one of the players Komets coach Gary Graham said has been playing well during the team's recent slump

Colin Chaulk
Colin Chaulk
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 10:44 pm
When the Brampton Beast got off to an 0-5-1 start, rookie coach Colin Chaulk called a team meeting. "Everyone is doubting us, including your wives and girlfriends, and probably my wife, too," Chaulk told his players. "But this is when I'm at my best."

Since then, the Beast have won five of their last six games and three in a row. The former Komets' great always seemed to be able to use adversity to his advantage as a player and now as a coach.

"With a new coach and basically a new team, we had all the excuses in the world built in," he said. "A slow start was somewhat expected but not that slow, and now guys believe and that's half the battle. The players are really playing hard together and for each other."

Part of that included trading star center Yannick Tifu to Reading, bringing in some new rookies and holding players accountable. Two of his stars have been former Komets Matthew Maione and Brandon Marino who leads the team in scoring and is the team captain. Chris Auger and Stephon Thorne are also playing for the Beast, who host the Komets on Sunday.

"I've been waiting 38 years for this, and I wouldn't have it any other way," Chaulk said. "It's been a blast, and I really do love what I do. It was hard on the family in the beginning, but everything is great now."

IceMen facing trouble

After months of private negotiations, the Evansville IceMen went public this week with concerns about their lease which is up at the end of the season. In a letter to fans, IceMen Owner Ron Geary said the team has a Dec. 1 deadline to get a deal done.

"We proposed new terms to the City several times since February but the City has not proposed any terms and rejected ours," Geary wrote. "Unless we can obtain a lease and deliver game dates for the 2016-2017 season to the league by December 1, the team will not make the 2016-2017 season."

Geary says the IceMen have the most-expensive lease in the ECHL and have lost millions since moving to the Ford Center in 2011.

Evansville, 3-7-0 so far, is averaging 5,702 fans after four home games, which ranks fifth in the ECHL.    

What's your number?

What's funny about Kyle Thomas switching numbers so often this season is that he's not even close to being the player who has switched the most in team history. So far this season, Thomas has worn numbers 15 (in training camp), 51 (in exhibition games), 13 (military appreciation jersey) and now 24, which he hopes to stick with the rest of the season.

Whenever he was in a scoring slump, at the suggestion of equipment manger Joe Franke, former Komet Keli Corpse liked trying changing his luck by changing numbers. During his 132-game Fort Wayne career, the center used numbers 55, 8, 47, 9, 39 and 47 again.

"I had a thing with Joe that is if I was struggling and couldn't get out of it, I'd switch numbers," Corpse said. "You just go with the hunch at the time."

Because the Komets will be wearing video game jerseys Saturday in Toledo, there's still a chance Thomas could get yet another number.

That's consistent

Kalamazoo goaltender Joel Martin has played all 13 games the Wings have played so far this season, which is remarkable. That brings up the question of which Komets goaltender has played the most consecutive games. Chuck Adamson holds a record that will never be broken when he played 176 straight games from 1963 to 1965. Adamson would lose as much as 25 pounds in a season because he couldn't eat enough to overcome the grind.

Still more roster moves

Since Oct. 27, the Komets have not gone more than two days without making a roster move.  The season is only 11 games old, but there are only 14 players who are here from the start, and five of the top seven scorers are out of the lineup because of injury or call-ups.

Just in the last two weeks they lost Drew Daniels, Trevor Cheek and Spencer Martin to American League call-ups, and Garrett Meurs has gone up and now come back. Alex Belzile, Shawn Szydlowski and now Peter Sivak are on 21-day injured reserve, and Dean Ouellet also missed games with an injury. Several other players are dealing with injuries but are still playing.

To combat all that, the Komets have brought in Nikita Kashirsky, Matthew Larke, Nicholas Kuqali, Adam Morrison and Larkin Saalfrank (emergency back-up goaltender). Gabriel Beaupre came down from San Antonio but was injured Sunday. Two other players were claimed off waivers but didn't report.

On Tuesday they signed Curtis Leonard, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound defenseman who had been let go by Reading.

The goal for this weekend is to play a regular lineup of six defensemen and 10 forwards.

"The good news is there are still 61 games left in the season so there's no real reason to hit the panic button," forward Mike Embach said. "This happens all over the league at least once a season. You're rather do it now than two weeks before the playoffs."

Who's stepping up

When asked who was playing well of late, Komets coach Gary Graham said, "Will Weber is a real steady guy. He's been through it all and he continues to play a boatoad of minutes. I think Kyle Thomas is making the most of his opportunity. He's continuing to work hard and have a positive attitude."

Icing the puck

The Colorado Avalanche sent in a power skating coach to work with the players after Tuesday's practice... New center Nikita Kashirsky is best friends with NHL superstar Alex Ovechkin... The Komets continue to lead the ECHL with 35.5 shots per game... Spencer Martin is 2-0 with a 1.51 goals against average and .958 save percentage in his first two games with San Antonio... Trevor Cheek has a goal and four points in seven games with the Rampage... Cody Sol played his 200th career pro game last Sunday... Before this Sunday's game in Brampton, the last time the Komets played in Canada was March 22 and 24, 1998, when they won two games in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Moose. 


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