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Learning curve proves too steep

Komets failed to adjust to play of ECHL

– The Komets have only three games remaining in their worst season, record-wise, since going 28-47-7 in 1996-97 in the Triple A-level IHL. This is only the second time since then, first since 2002, that they’ve missed the playoffs.

The Komets have lost three in a row and are 32-33-4 heading into Wednesday’s game at Memorial Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye.

It has been a peculiar season for the Komets, mostly because they were confident they had a roster that would compete in the ECHL.

After winning the 2012 CHL championship, their mantra coming into this season was “Double-A hockey is Double-A hockey,” but instead they’ve looked woefully unprepared for the ECHL.

While general manager David Franke said that the prolonged NHL lockout wreaked havoc on his team, as did having to start the roster from scratch without an expansion draft, this season has been much like the Komets’ first season in the CHL, 2010-11.

Back then, they failed to adjust to the speed, youth and competitiveness of a new league.

But after winning three straight titles in the IHL, the Komets at least made the playoffs in 2011.

Asked what the Komets need to do in the remaining games, alternate captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said: “We need to show everyone that we care about being here.”

Too bad nothing has been predictable this season:

•With a record of 15-19-0, the Komets are going to finish with a losing record at the Coliseum for only the fifth time in their 61 seasons of play. Amazingly, they have had the highest average attendance in the 23-team ECHL – 7,505 per game – yet they’ve gone 0-7-0 with more than 8,000 fans in the building.

•In 38 games this season, the Komets have failed to score more than three goals. Last season, that happened only 19 times. That will be the biggest issue in building next season’s team, Franke said.

•The defense, even more a staple of Komets hockey, ranks 20th with an allowance of 3.45 goals per game. Alaska, which clinched the regular-season championship for a third straight season Saturday – that’s a league record – allows a league-low 2.39 per game.

•Since when do the Komets have bad special teams? The power play ranks 23rd and last with an efficiency of 12.4 percent. Brett Smith has a team-leading five power-play goals. And the penalty kill ranks 21st at 79.8 percent.

•With a new affiliation with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals, player movement was expected. But the Komets have used 40 different players this season, and that’s 13 more than last season. The days of having players spend a decade with the Komets are probably over when Colin Chaulk retires, perhaps after this season.

jcohn@jg.net

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