FORT WAYNE – When forward Matt Syroczynski joins the Komets’ lineup, perhaps as soon as Friday at Memorial Coliseum, he will be the 36th player to suit up for the team this season.
It’s not typical for the Komets to have that much roster turnover in a season, but injuries, their affiliation with the Anaheim Ducks and the NHL lockout have contributed to numerous personnel moves.
The Komets have used 36 players in a season only once since leaving the original IHL in 1999.
That was in 2005-06, when they used 43, and the Komets could surpass that number with 28 games remaining heading into tonight’s matchup at Kalamazoo, Mich.
This season has been anything but typical for the Komets (23-19-2), who are tied with Wheeling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Here are some other uncommon things we’ve seen in Fort Wayne’s first ECHL campaign:
At Memorial Coliseum, the Komets are 10-12-0 and in danger of finishing below .500 at home for the first time at this level, despite averaging an ECHL-best 7,402 fans per game. Last season, they were 19-8-6 at the Coliseum.
Defense is normally a staple of Komets hockey, but they rank 15th out of the ECHL’s 23 teams with 3.32 goals against per game, which is almost a half a goal per game more than last season, when Fort Wayne won the CHL title. It could end up being the Komets’ worst defense since 2000-01, when they allowed 3.42 per game.
The Komets are averaging 20.95 penalty minutes, fourth most in the league and most for the Komets since 22.08 in 2008-09, when they won the IHL title.
The Komets’ penalty kill ranks 17th with an efficiency of 79.9 percent, worst since its 79.8 of 2000-01.
The 22nd-ranked power play is even worse and on pace to finish with the worst efficiency (13.8 percent) the Komets have had at the AA level.
The good news is the Komets will get a boost in the lineup tonight when forward Thomas Beauregard returns after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. He has 14 goals and 18 points in 30 games with the Komets.
He really could have come back last week, but he had to fulfill the 21-day requirements of (injured reserve), general manager David Franke said.
He’s ready to go and has been practicing full speed. I think he’ll step in and help out.
Captain Colin Chaulk, who has missed the past 25 games with a shoulder injury and then a foot infection, is a couple of weeks from returning.
The Komets are 6-4-1 this season against Kalamazoo (23-19-2). Goaltender Kenny Reiter has won six straight road games for the Komets.
Note: Former Komet Leo Thomas of Pensacola was suspended for the rest of the season and the playoffs following what the Southern Professional Hockey League called an incident involving fans at the end of the Pensacola-Louisiana game Friday night.