Tailing the Komets: Observations from Friday’s game

Komets dropped third straight home game

Artur Tyanulin

Artur Tyanulin

Even with a few injured players sitting in the stands, no one ever expected this Fort Wayne Komets team to struggle offensively. They’ve scored six goals over three consecutive losses, all at home. Friday’s 4-2 loss to Adirondack was particularly upsetting to 7,071 Memorial Coliseum fans.

As has become a bad habit, the Komets came out flat during the first two periods, thoroughly getting out-worked by the Thunder all over the ice. There were plenty of lazy passes, no consistent hustle skating back defensively and way too many attempts at fancy rather than basic plays. There was also no effective forecheck and every time they did crack into the Adirondack defense, there were too many one-on-one plays rather than trying to set up teammates.

It’s like everyone thinks they can pad their offensive stats and get a quick call-up to leave town.

Komets coach Gary Graham tried to provide some perspective after the game.

“Adirondack put pucks on net, crashed the net and got rewarded,” he said. “Teams know we have a lot of offensive firepower and they play defense accordingly. The well has gone a little bit dry right now.”

The Komets didn’t win enough battles for the puck along the boards or in front of the net. There were a lot of players veering off body checks, even on Thunder players carrying the puck.

“We have 100 percent belief in the group, and we have to be patient,” Graham said. “Guys are pressing for offense. The identity hasn’t been forged yet with this team. We’ll continue to hammer that out.”

There’s plenty of talent to put together a tremendous team, but it might take 20 games for them to come together and play as a team. Some players need to sit until they realize they need to play for their teammates and not just themselves.

Road trip from…

The Thunder are stuck in the middle of playing 12 road games in nine cities over two countries over three weeks. They started by playing at Reading last Sunday before going home for two days. They left Wednesday to come here, are left after the game for Cincinnati where they play Saturday and stay until Monday to go to Quad City for a game Wednesday. Then they go to Kalamazoo for games Friday and Saturday before going to Brampton for a 2 p.m. Sunday game. Then they leave Monday for a 10:45 a.m. game in Wheeling before heading to Norfolk to play Thursday. Then they go to Manchester for a Saturday game. After two days at home to do laundry, Adirondack leaves the following Tuesday to play at Reading before heading home for Thanksgiving. Then the Thunder goes back to Reading to play on Black Friday before having a home game on the next day.

There’s a rodeo and then a gun show in Adirondack. To make up for the road trip, the ECHL schedule has Adirondack playing at least one game at home every weekend from Nov. 25 to the third week in January.

Last chance

Tonight is the final opportunity for fans to donate items for the 10th year of Komets Kare Package. We’re attempting to help the Northern Indiana Veterans Administration Health System, which serves more than 45,000 veterans throughout the region, set up a food pantry.

The list of food items being asked for includes canned items such as spaghetti sauce, pasta, pork and beans, chili or stew, fruit, tuna, salmon, chicken and mixed vegetables. Also welcomed are packaged products such as Tuna, Chicken or Hamburger Helper, pudding packs, peanut butter and jelly, cereals, oatmeal, boxed potato dishes, rice and pasta side dishes, macaroni and cheese, and breakfast bars. The VA is unable to store fresh or frozen food and would prefer not to deal with liquids.

Icing the puck

Happy birthday to Komets Public Address Announcer Larry Schmitt who turns 50 on Saturday… Marc-Olivier Roy turns 23 on Sunday, and Gabriel Desjardins turns 25 on Thursday… Tonight’s game against Quad City ends the longest consecutive stretch of home games to start a Komets season at six. Their previous most-consecutive was three… In fact, the most-consecutive home games the Komets have played was eight early in the 1997-98 and 2000-01 seasons… The Komets start a five-game road stretch Sunday in Kalamazoo… They have another five-game road trip from Feb. 27 to March 9… Their next-longest home stretch of games is three twice… Obviously, the Komets have applied the new faceoff rule change while their opponents have not. The Komets have yet to receive a delay of game penalty for a bad set-up, while their opponents have been called five times. It’s not that hard to figure out. The Komets have also done a very good job of adjusting to the new slashing penalty emphasis.

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