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Komets

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Komets stare at reality without berth in ECHL playoffs

– mathematically – for a playoff spot in their first ECHL season.

Common sense, though, suggests they will miss the postseason for the first time since 2002, when they were in the UHL.

That was so long ago that longtime captain Colin Chaulk was still playing for the Colorado Gold Kings in a league, the West Coast Hockey League, that doesn’t exist anymore. Since then, the Komets have won five championships and moved to the IHL, the CHL and now the ECHL.

The Komets have only 10 games left to make up nine points and get from 11th to eighth place in the Eastern Conference. That’s unlikely to happen. “Mathematically, obviously, we’re not out of it,” center Brett Smith said, after the Komets lost back-to-back games to the Florida Everblades, 6-3 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. “But it’s even harder after this weekend.”

Since Smith guaranteed the Komets would make the playoffs, after a 2-1 loss at Cincinnati on Feb. 12, the Komets have lost 8 of 11 games.

“It’s just been frustrating,” he said. “I feel like the guys have been working hard. I don’t think anyone can question that. But it’s just not there. It’s as simple as that. We can’t find a goal when we need it. I’m missing. Everyone’s missing.”

The Komets have wasted great play from goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, who has started eight straight games since being sent down from Anaheim of the NHL. He is 3-4-1 with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

But the Komets have scored only 25 goals over their past 13 games, and they’ve lost 10 of those.

“I feel for him right now,” Smith said of Deslauriers.

About the only good news for the Komets is their next game, Wednesday, is against the worst team in the conference, Evansville.

“We have to (think about the playoffs), until we’re mathematically eliminated. We’ve got to keep thinking we’re going to get there somehow,” said coach Al Sims, whose team won the CHL title last year. “We’ve got to play hard every night. I don’t think we can play any worse than we did (Saturday). Hopefully, Wednesday we bring something better.”

jcohn@jg.net

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