You may not still believe. And you are certainly justified.
The Komets have lost 7 of 8 games with an unproductive offense. And theyve fallen eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and won only 11 of 27 games at Memorial Coliseum.
But the Komets believe theres still something in their locker room, a playoff team, even if its one that has woefully underperformed after winning four championships in five years and boasting its mantra, Its all Double-A hockey, before joining the ECHL last summer.
On Sunday, the loss was particularly frustrating for the Komets because they dominated the Wheeling Nailers for almost the entire game, yet lost 1-0, in front of 7,958 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
We certainly still expect to make the playoffs. We expect to make a push. Weve just got to get some goals in the net and string together some wins, said forward Eric Giosa, after the Komets outshot the Nailers 44-29 but were repeatedly thwarted by goaltender Peter Delmas.
The final three penalties of the game, all in the final 6:14, were assessed to the Komets by referee Andy Thackaberry. And it set up forward Paul Crowders game-winning goal with 3:33 remaining, though a failed clearing attempt by the Komets didnt help matters.
The Nailers (23-22-9) were 1 for 5 on power plays. The Komets (27-28-2) were 0 for 2.
When you play that well and then take those penalties, its just frustrating, Komets defenseman Ryan Hegarty said. We felt like we played so well. And after a streak like this with a lot of losses, you stop looking at the results and you just want to play well and as a team and for each other. We come out and dominate them in the first two periods, and then we handled them in the third before penalties caught up to us.
The Komets had 23 of the games first 25 shots.
But they have totaled only 12 goals over the past eight games, the only victory coming Saturday at Toledo, where they defeated the Walleye 3-1.
This was just a microcosm of the whole season, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. We havent been able to score much all year and tonight, Delmas, we either made him look good, or he played unbelievable. It doesnt matter which. The fact of the matter is we couldnt get a goal despite 44 shots.
Time is running out; the Komets have only 15 games to get back into the playoff race. The trade deadline is March 7, but the Komets believe Sunday showed they have the personnel that can get it done – they just need fewer penalties and more killer instinct around the net.
Were doing a really good job of getting shots to the net and getting really good chances, off of the way we like to play and we should play, and thats helped the last few games, Hegarty said. If we continue to do that, well win some games and score a lot of goals.
Former NHL goaltender Jeff Deslauriers stopped 28 of 29 shots for the Komets. Since being sent to Fort Wayne from Anaheim of the NHL, he has gone 2-1-0 and stopped 95.5 percent of the shots he has faced.
He should be (ECHL) Goaltender of the Week; he deserves it, said Sims, whose annoyance with the losing is evident. Were generating offense but not finishing. Its frustrating for the team and for me, obviously. When youre getting opportunities and getting offense, its tough to change.