FORT WAYNE – The patience of Komets general manager David Franke is wearing thin, as his team has lost five of six games, dropping to 8-7-1 overall for the 11th-best winning percentage among the ECHL’s 23 teams.
This wasn’t what he had in mind after the team won the CHL championship last season – its fourth title in five seasons – and then put together a group of players perceived to be elite at this level, while also inking an affiliation with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
It’s not lost on Franke that his team has had an incredible amount of injuries – forwards Chris Auger, Eric Giosa and Matt Kennedy, defenseman Ryan Hegarty and goaltender Marco Cousineau have been out weeks – and that call-ups to Norfolk of the American Hockey League have affected things, too.
However, the Komets haven’t been scoring and Franke sees that as the primary concern heading into today’s game at Gwinnett, Ga.
Our biggest concern right now is putting the puck in the net and making sure offensively that we’re not putting our goaltenders and defense in a mode where they have to pitch a shutout every night, Franke said. It’s too much pressure. It’s not realistic, and we must start scoring.
The Komets’ offense ranks 17th with 2.75 goals per game. The defense rates 16th, allowing 3.19 goals per game. In the last six games, the Komets have been outscored 25-11.
The only consistent scorers have been Brandon Marino (seven goals, 23 points), captain Colin Chaulk (two goals, 16 points) and Anaheim prospect Josh Brittain (six goals, 10 points).
Meanwhile, alternate captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock has no goals and one assist, Stephon Thorne has two goals and no assists and defenseman Tyler Butler, who was expected to be the top playmaking defenseman, has no goals, four assists and a team-worst minus-8 rating.
The Komets have been scouring the free-agent wire for players, but meanwhile, Anaheim assigned forward Ryan Lasch to the Komets, while Norfolk has sent forwards Luca Caputi and Garrett Klotz.
Everybody has got to be in tune with what’s going on, Franke said. I don’t think anybody should really feel secure. We like to win, and we’re not winning now. We’re not playing hard for three periods or playing Komet hockey for three periods. We’ll give everybody a chance to come to the forefront, but we can’t keep losing like this.
The Komets are hopeful Hegarty will play today – he is scoreless in seven games – and that Giosa (three goals in four games) will be back soon and that will make a difference.
But the next two games are against the Gladiators, who are 14-4-1 for a league-best winning percentage of .763, and then there are three games at Orlando, Fla., and the Solar Bears are 8-8-3.