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Komets notebook: This team is very tough

Kansas City goaltender Tyler Parsons robbed Komets center Dennis Kravchenko during the third period of Friday's game. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)

So just how tough is this Komets team? We may never get to find out.

With the recent signing of Dan Maggio, it’s hard to imagine any ECHL team having a tougher defense than one that includes Maggio, Cody Sol and Bobby Shea. That pretty much covers every weight class and doesn’t include forwards like Taylor Crunk, Shawn Szydlowski, Garrett Thompson, Justin Hodgman, Tyson Fawcett, Gabriel Desjardins, Mason Baptista and even newcomers Marco-Olivier Roy or Dennis Kravchenko who have been known to drop the gloves.

After the opening-night game against Toledo when Kravchenko tangled with Toledo’s A.J. Jenks, he spent some time after the game trading info with Shea, who a couple of years ago was recognized by the Professional Hockey Players Association as the ECHL’s toughest player.

“He was asking me I was a righty or a lefty (he used both) and we started talking about when you throw and switch positions and things like that,” Kravchenko said. “When you get a new guy on a team who fights and has any kind of knowledge, they give you pointers and talk about it and find common interest with each other. You just try to learn from each other’s styles and meet each other and build relationships.”

The best thing? All the tough guys on the roster can play a legitimate regular shift. There’s enough toughness present that the Komets as a team may not ever be challenged.

Here’s the stats

After the Komets beat Kansas City 8-2 on Friday, coach Gary Graham warned his team about a Saturday letdown, and Fort Wayne still fell into the trap, losing 3-2 on Saturday night.

But that happens often enough to be able to predict (as a story on News-Sentinel.com did, in fact). So what are the statistics after big wins?

Over the Komets’ five years in the ECHL, they are 7-8-2 after scoring six or more goals at home, and they are 3-4-1 when they do it on the road.

There are a lot of factors to consider such as how good was the second opponent, were they playing the same opponent the next night and how bad was the opponent the first night. It’s happened a couple of times when the Komets were playing Indy and clobbered the Fuel at home and then struggled the next night on the road.

The worst part for the Komets? The one trend that really stands out is how they struggle against a lesser opponent the next night.

The G-man

Almost every Komet is playing well so far this season, but Garrett Thompson has been the most consistent player from the start of training camp. It seems like he’s always in front of the net distracting the goaltender, chasing down defensemen on the forecheck or hustling back to block shots defensively. Thompson has two goals and four points during the first three games.

“It’s just carried over from the playoffs if you ask me,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “He was so big for us in the playoffs last year, every shift it seemed like he was (making) an impact whether it was on the scoreboard or not. He’s just doing everything the right way. He’s very coachable, he’s got a great attitude and the guys just love seeing him have success because he’s a great teammate, a great human being and it’s also nice to see those guys get rewarded.”

Time to plan ahead

Komets Kare Package is returning for its 10th year at the Nov. 3 and 4 home games. Sponsored by The News-Sentinel, the Komets, WANE and Federal Express, the program asks fans to donate supplies for the Northern Indiana Veterans Administration Health System which serves more than 45,000 veterans throughout the region.

This year, along with the usual items such as gloves, hats, magazines, CDs, DVDs, puzzle books, personal toiletries, hygiene products, blankets and cleaning supplies, we’re asking Komets fans to consider donating food which can be used to help the VA start a local pantry system.

The list of food items being asked for include canned items spaghetti sauce, pasta, pork and beans, chili or stew, fruit, tuna, salmon or chicken and mixed vegetables and 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.

A good omen?

This is only the fifth time in Fort Wayne’s 66-year history the Komets haven’t had a road game slated in October. No October road games were played in 1958 when the Komets advanced to the IHL finals that year, 1962 when Fort Wayne won their first IHL Turner Cup, 1963 when the K’s advanced to the IHL finals and 2011 when Fort Wayne captured the CHL Presidents’ Cup.

This is the first time the Komets have opened the season with six straight home games. Their previous most was three several times. In fact, the most consecutive home games the Komets have ever played was eight early in the 1997-98 and 2000-01 seasons.

Back-up plan

Trine University hockey announcer Geoff Chiles visited the Komets’ press box Friday night to pitch in with Shane Albahrani on the radio broadcast. Chiles called Central Michigan University hockey before recently coming to Angola where he calls games for the new hockey team. Depending on the Thunder schedule, Chiles is going to be available to fill in for Albahrani if he gets knocked out because of an illness.

Icing the puck

With the addition of forward Zac Lazzara, the Komets have 11 American and 10 Canadiens on the roster. This is likely the first time this has happened in franchise history… Defensive partners Jason Binkley and Cody Sol are both plus-7 after three games to lead all ECHL blueliners… Though he played 22 games (including eight in the playoffs) last year with Fort Wayne, technically, defenseman Ryan Lowney is the only rookie on the Komets roster… AHL-affiliate Tucson ends a four-game road trip tonight in Grand Rapids.

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