FORT WAYNE – Komets alternate captain Brett Smith has taken up the mantle of bold leadership with captain Colin Chaulk out of the lineup the last 32 games because of shoulder and foot injuries.
At least when it comes to bold predictions, of which Chaulk has made several in his career.
This team is going to make the playoffs, Smith said after losing 2-1 at Cincinnati on Tuesday night. This team is making the playoffs, and I’m doing everything to make it happen.
The Komets (26-23-2) have lost four of their last six games heading into today’s game at Evansville (17-30-5).
The top eight teams in the Eastern Conference will make the playoffs; the Komets were two points back of eighth heading into Thursday night.
While coach Al Sims has praised the Komets’ play lately, as they’ve been short-handed because of injuries, the players haven’t been making excuses for losing.
The Komets won four championships in the last five years in the IHL and CHL and didn’t expect to be scrapping for a playoff spot with 21 games remaining in the regular season.
It’s not there. And where is the answer? The answer is with us and it’s only with us, said Smith, who captained Bossier-Shreveport to the CHL title in 2011 and helped the Komets to it last year.
If you’re not having your night, you’ve got to find a way to contribute. You’ve got to take a hit. You’ve got to get in the way of somebody, find a way. If it’s your night, then go, lead the team. We just, for some reason, can’t have that all together every single night. It’s every other night, or every third night or not very often. We need to find a way to stick together.
The Komets play a home-and-home series with the IceMen before Sunday’s game at Toledo (28-18-4). That will be the second half a doubleheader; the Komets’ alumni team will take on Toledo alumni at 2 p.m. and the Komets’ game is at 5 p.m.
Among Komets legends scheduled to appear are Kevin Bertram, Kelly Perrault, Ron Leef, Martin Burgers, John Hilworth, Steve Fletcher, Carey Lucyk, Adam Lewis, Dan Price, Chad Dameworth, Doug Rigler, Dale Baldwin, Kelly Hurd, Doug Teskey and Bob and Bobby Phillips.
Twelve of the Komets’ remaining games are against divisional rivals.
Almost every team we’re playing the rest of the way is within four, five or six points of us, Smith said, and if we can win some of those games – win three or four in a row – then we’ll be putting ourselves in a pretty good spot.