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Komets go for chemistry, trim roster to 20


Komets coach Gary Graham is pleased with the roster he has for the team’s 62nd season.

“I’m really excited with the group of guys we decided to keep around,” said Graham, whose team released nine players Sunday, including a potential top-line player in Paul McIlveen, plus Kyle Bochek and Matthew Larke, who were hyped early summer signings.

Also waived were forwards Darick Ste. Marie, Keegan Flaherty and Kevin Walrod, defensemen Derek Foam and William Lacasse, plus goaltender Max Strang.

“It’s a positive group, good attitudes,” Graham said of the players kept. “I’m a big guy on trying to create the right environment and culture in building this new chapter for the hockey club. They want to get better each day.”

The Komets retain 20 players on their roster with the Toledo Walleye coming to Memorial Coliseum for the opener Saturday.

Things could still change, as the Komets will evaluate the players being cut all around the ECHL, but Graham believes in the group he has now.

He acknowledged there were cuts not everyone expected, but he credited other players for competing to get themselves onto the team. He named, in particular, forwards Chris Auger, John Dunbar and Scott Fleming.

In the preseason – the Komets went 2-1-0 – Auger led the Komets with three goals and five points, Dunbar had three goals and four points and Fleming had one goal and three points.

“It’s about chemistry and how you see guys fitting into different roles,” said Graham, in his first season as Komets head coach. “I’ll be honest with you, Dunbar, Auger and Fleming just had great training camps. Everyone was coming in to earn jobs and those three players did a lot to set themselves apart from other guys.

“We always preach that the cream rises to the top and you want to reward guys who work hard to make that happen.”

Some other players who had uphill battles to make the team, but did so, include forwards Jake Hauswirth and Matt Firman.

Of course, salary cap is always a consideration, too.

“You’ve got to fit the pieces of the puzzle together,” Graham said. “There’s the salary cap and you have to get the best group of guys out of what you have.”