Komets captain Jamie Schaafsma celebrates a goal against Toledo, which Fort Wayne will face in the season opener in October. (Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette)
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 1:00 am
Komets start with 6 at home
Open with rival Walleye; will hit road in November
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
The Komets open next season with six consecutive home games, beginning with the Oct. 14 game at Memorial Coliseum against the rival Toledo Walleye. And the home-heavy early schedule could bode well for Fort Wayne in its 66th season, at least if history is any indication and if they take care of business at the Coliseum.
Only four times before have the Komets not gone on the road until November – in 1958-59, when they reached the playoff finals; in 1962-63, when they won their first championship; in 1963-64, when they reached the finals; and in 2011-12, when they won their last championship.
The Komets, who lost to Toledo in the Central Division finals this season, had the best home record in the ECHL. Next season, 31 of their 36 home games will be on weekends or holidays and they won't play on the road until Nov. 5 against the Kalamazoo Wings, according to the ECHL schedule released Tuesday.
The Komets' most frequent opponents are the Indy Fuel, Cincinnati Cyclones and Quad City Mallards, with nine meetings apiece. They will face the Walleye eight times, including the traditional Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve games at the Coliseum, and a 10:30 a.m. game in Toledo on Dec. 6.
While the Komets won't face the new Jacksonville IceMen, who had formerly played in Evansville, they will have one meeting with the new Worcester Railers on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, in Massachusetts. The Adirondack Thunder's first game at the Coliseum will be Nov. 3.
They will have six games with the Kansas City Mavericks, formerly known as the Missouri Mavericks, but they will not face the Idaho Steelheads – a team they have yet to face. They also will not play the Manchester Monarchs, Atlanta Gladiators, Florida Everblades, Norfolk Admirals or South Carolina Stingrays.
While the 27-team conference and divisional alignments have yet to be announced, some rivals on the schedule include: the Wheeling Nailers (six meetings), Wichita Thunder (four), Allen Americans (two), Utah Grizzlies (two), Rapid City Rush (one), Colorado Eagles (one) and Colin Chaulk-coached Brampton Beast (one).
The busiest month of the season for the Komets will be March with 15 games. They have eight games at the Coliseum in February.
“It's a great schedule for Komet fans, with weekend dates dominating our home schedule.” Komets President Michael Franke said. “We will also see some new teams and overall a great variety of opponents for our 66th anniversary season.”