FORT WAYNE – That’s correct; the Komets do play this morning at Toledo in the Walleye’s School Appreciation Game.
Playing on the road at such an odd time (10:30 a.m.) would ruffle some teams, but not the Komets.
They are masters of the road victory, it seems.
The Komets, who have won their last three games, are 5-2-1 in their first ECHL season with a 3-0-1 road record.
We haven’t lost in regulation this season on the road. The one game we did lose was 1-0 (in a shootout Oct. 19 at Kalamazoo, Mich.), and I think more than anything, it’s our veteran leadership, the guys back from last year. We had a very good road record last year, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said.
Last season, the Komets went 21-11-1 on the road and 19-8-6 at Memorial Coliseum. They won the CHL’s Presidents’ Cup, winning six playoff games at home and six on the road.
The Komets would seem to have a strong home-ice advantage as the team’s average attendance (7,770) was fifth in minor league hockey last season. Fort Wayne only trailed higher-level American Hockey League clubs Hershey, Chicago, Lake Erie and Providence in attendance.
But trying to live up to home fans’ expectations could be the reason the Komets have played better on the road.
I think the guys feel a little bit more pressure at home with the fans, Sims said. We should be more excited, better, but maybe we get a little too jacked. Sometimes that doesn’t help us. But on the road, we play the way we’re supposed to – conservative and don’t take the extra chance or make the extra turnover, and that tends to help us.
The Komets haven’t played since Saturday’s 6-5 victory at Kalamazoo, during which they lost goaltender Marco Cousineau to a groin injury. However, Kenny Reiter is back from the AHL’s Brideport Sound Tigers to join Charlie Effinger in goal.
Reiter was the best goalie in the ECHL before he was called up – he was 1-0-1 with a 0.83 goals-against average and a .973 save percentage – and with Bridgeport he was 0-1-0 with a 4.50 GAA and a .822 save percentage in two games.
Effinger is 3-1-0 with a 2.88 GAA and a .918 save percentage for the Komets.
After today’s game, the Komets will play Evansville at the Coliseum for the first time since Oct. 20, when Aaron Gens’ hit on Chris Auger caused multiple knee injuries and ended the season of the Komets star forward.
That game, the 4,500th in franchise history, will be broadcast on 1190 AM and 92.3 FM by Bob Chase and Mike Emrick, the national voice of the NHL on NBC. Today’s game will be on 1380 AM and 106.7 FM because of the start time.