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Komets

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Komets
at Orlando
When: 7 p.m. today; 7 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday
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Komets, affiliates have similar goals

– Of course the Anaheim Ducks and the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals want the Komets to develop their players.

But that doesn’t mean they’re indifferent to the Komets’ recent struggles in wins and losses.

“Our belief is that nothing develops players better than winning,” said Bob Ferguson, Norfolk’s assistant general manager, charged with making sure Anaheim’s players become NHL-ready.

“Our philosophy is we’re not just trying to develop players to play in the NHL. We’re trying to develop players to win in the NHL. There’s a big difference. It’s one thing to be able to go up and play, but you want to win.”

The Komets have four players contracted to the Ducks – Josh Brittain, Ryan Lasch, Matt Kennedy and Marco Cousineau – and they have Norfolk players Luca Caputi, Garrett Klotz and Ryan Hegarty.

The Komets, who are in their first ECHL season, and first under the direction of the Ducks, are 9-8-1 but have lost six of their last eight.

Tonight begins three straight games in three days at Orlando, Fla., against the Solar Bears (9-10-3).

The Komets have been outscored 31-16 in their eight-game struggles, but they hope that two of the newest additions – former NHL players Caputi and Lasch – can help ignite the offense. They are both scoreless in two games with Fort Wayne.

“They both look like they need some conditioning and both can play a lot better than what they did,” Komets general manager David Franke said.

Norfolk has experienced its own up-and-down season, going 9-11-0. The Admirals, who won the AHL title last season while a Tampa Bay’s affiliate, lost nine of 10 games between Nov. 7 and Nov. 28. The Admirals were struggling with confidence and, because of the lockout, facing NHL goaltenders almost every night.

“Winning develops players’ confidence – you don’t get to this level without confidence – but we’re also know that, pardon the cliché, it’s marathon and not a sprint,” Ferguson said. “You’re going to go through the ups and downs. We just went through a tough spell ourselves.”

Ferguson wants to see players at all levels of the Ducks’ organization, including in Fort Wayne, to show they can develop a knack for winning. With some of the prospects being young – Hegarty is only 22 – he said that can take time.

“It’s all part of learning to be a professional hockey player,” said Ferguson, the former coach of the IHL’s Indianapolis Ice. “Whether it’s a team thing our an individual thing. These guys are used to being go-to guys (at lower levels) and two or three games without a point is a slump to them. You have to be able to turn a three- or four-game losing streak around.”

Note: The Komets’ players, and the Journal Gazette’s Justin A. Cohn, raised more than $2,000 for men’s health issues through the Movember campaign in which they grew mustaches throughout November.

jcohn@jg.net

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