Komets notes: Here’s your sign, drive for five and the award goes to…
Since 2001, sisters Janice Shepler and Kris Musser have painted a sign they hang in the northeast corner of the Memorial Coliseum Arena. It’s 50 feet long and takes 10 minutes to attach to the wall above sections 202, 204 and 206 for each playoff game. The posters have encouraged five championship teams, and when the Komets win titles, the sisters take the poster to the end-of-season fan party to be signed by the players.
Past messages have included “It’s time to get loud!”, “Gotta believe,” “60 years of heart, pride & grit! That’s Komet Hockey!”, “Same tradition, same goal,” “What happens in our jungle, stays in our jungle! 3-Peat!” and last year’s “Every game, every shift, every teammate, all heart!”
This year’s sign says “Playoffs: Where the small things lead to the big thing. #Chasing Kelly,” which is a play on words for something Komets captain Jamie Schaafsma said a couple weeks before the end of the regular season.
Here’s a worthy goal
As they continue for their ECHL Central Division semifinal playoff series, the Fort Wayne Komets have a chance to do something which has only been done one other time during the 30-year history of the ECHL. If Fort Wayne can defeat Cincinnati in this series, the Komets will win a first-round series for the fifth year in a row.
The Alaska Aces won at least one round from 2004 to 2009, while Idaho from 2011 to 2014 and Cincinnati from 2007 to 2010 won at least one round four years in a row.
During the last 10 years that the Komets have qualified for the playoffs in three different leagues, winning at least one round every year and 16 series. They have qualified for the playoffs 15 times in the last 16 years, and have won at least one round 13 times, winning 22 series and five championships.
The Komets have won at least one road game in 17 of their last 20 playoff series back to 2007. Only four of those series went to seven games, meaning the Komets have usually won deciding road games early in series.
When’s the presentation?
Because the trophies are engraved before they are shipped out to the teams, it’s likely the Komets’ Shawn Szydlowski will receive his ECHL Most Valuable Player Award before Game 6 on Tuesday night… if there is one. If not then, it will be before the next Fort Wayne home game.
Komets who were MVPs
Player, league, season
Len Thornson, IHL, 1958-59
Len Thornson, IHL, 1960-61
Len Thornson, IHL, 1961-62
Len Thornson, IHL, 1962-63
Eddie Long, IHL, 1962-63
Len Thornson, IHL, 1963-64
Len Thornson, IHL, 1966-67
Len Thornson, IHL, 1967-68
Dan Bonar, IHL 1977-78
Terry McDougall, IHL, 1978-79
Al Dumba, IHL, 1979-80
Darren Jensen, IHL, 1983-84
Kevin St. Pierre, UHL, 2003-04
Shawn Szydlowski, ECHL, 2017-18
Good luck, Gratzie
Fort Wayne-native Brian Gratz has been fired as head coach of the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, which is a shame. The team was dominated by injuries and players leaving for Europe this season, and Mike Babcock couldn’t have done anything different than Gratz did holding the squad together.
Gratz had three years in Greenville, finishing 93-99-24. The Swamp Rabbits made the playoffs in 2017 with a 40-26-6 record before losing in the first round.
This is embarrassing
Granted, it’s a home team thing to select the Three Stars of the Game, but how in the world did Cincinnati goaltender Jonas Johansson not receive any recognition after Game 1. Almost every team just picks home players, but come on! How legitimate are the three stars if he’s not included?
The Komets pounded Johansson with 72 shots on goal before they finally beat him in double overtime, though he made 68 saves. Amazingly, that was not the franchise record for shots in a game by the Komets or saves by an opposing goaltender. St. Paul’s Glenn Ramsay made 72 saves while facing 76 Fort Wayne shots during a four-overtime game in 1960.
Mason Baptista led the Komets in Game 1 with nine shots, Shawn Szydlowski had eight and Ryan Lowney seven. Ironically, every Komet had a shot on goal except for rookie defenseman Kevin McKernan whose heads-up pass set up the game-winning goal. That assist was also his first professional point.
Icing the puck
There will be at least 100 Komets fans at Saturday’s Game 4, and that just includes the ones sitting in a group. Most of those are riding down on the fan bus organized by Heather Lennington. Over the past two seasons, the Komets are 6-2 when the fan bus is at a game… Cincinnati is still missing ECHL Rookie of the Year Justin Danforth who has been battling an undisclosed injury with Rochester of the AHL… Game 1’s attendance of 7,318 was a record for the first game of an opening-round Game 1 home game… The best attendance for the first home game of an opening-round series was 8,003 on April 13, 1991, against Indianapolis… Game 1 was the ninth-longest playoff game in Komets history. The top 14 have all reached double overtime… Former Komets goaltender John Muse has been amazing so far for Reading, though the Royals were down 3-0 to Manchester heading into last night’s game. Muse had made at least 50 saves in each of the first three games. He has faced 169 shots, allowing 10 goals.