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Ice Chips

  • Some must-read stuff
    Komets coach Gary Graham arranges competitions within practices to determine the best breakaway players on his team. And while it's not as risqué as it sounds, one of the games is “strip shootout.”
  • Pretty great highlights
      Check out the video highlights above from the Komets 2-1 victory over the Indy Fuel in an overtime shootout at Memorial Coliseum.
  • K's douse Fuel with shootout win
    Komets forward Eric Faille left the game for a spell in the third period, after he took a stick to the face that required stitches.But he returned and it was a good thing for the Komets; he had one of their two goals in an overtime shootout,
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K's get big on D

Komets coach Gary Graham called it "a chance to show where we are taking this team, what direction we're going."

That would be big on the back end.

The Komets signed three defensemen Tuesday – Simon Danis-Pepin (6-foot-7, 240 pounds), Nik Pokulok (6-5, 225 pounds) and Jeremy Gates (6-2, 200 pounds).

"The biggest thing is we know what it takes to win in this league. We saw what happened last year," said Graham, who replaced the retired Al Sims after the Komets missed the playoffs in their first ECHL season.

"We need depth and will build the team the right way."

Danis-Pepin, 25, was a second-round draft pick of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks in 2006. He played collegiately for Maine, where he was the team captain. Last season with San Francisco of the ECHL, he had three goals, 10 points and 61 penalty minutes in 61 games.

He has played 75 games at the higher-level American Hockey League, which is an asset Graham said, since the Komets aren't affiliated with an NHL team right now. They are, though, in talks with NHL teams about aligning.

Pokulok, 23, played 29 games with Stockton last season, getting two goals, three points and 18 penalty minutes, after his college career at Clarkson University.

"Nik is a young guy, physical, rugged," Graham said. "He keeps things simple but has a big long stick and can protect his areas. We need to protect our goaltenders."

Gates, 25, played 17 games last season with the Komets, tallying one goal, four points and eight penalty minutes. He helped Graham to the Southern Professional Hockey League title with three goals, 13 points and 30 penalty minutes in 35 games.

"Jeremy, we believe in him," Graham said. "When we got him back from Fort Wayne in Pensacola, he made a lot of steps forward. He was the best defenseman in the Southern Pro League once he got back. He's got a lot to prove and wants to make the team out of (training) camp and stick."

The Komets continue to talk with Chris Auger, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, about a return, Graham said.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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