The rivalry between the Komets and Wheeling Nailers has always been decent -- full of high-scoring games and physical play -- but it could get a whole lot more intense soon.
The teams will meet 10 times in the first 21 games of the Komets’ season, including Fort Wayne’s season opener Feb. 12 in Wheeling, West Virginia, and its home opener Feb. 19 at Memorial Coliseum.
While 13 ECHL teams began play in December, and 12 have opted out of the season, the Komets are the only team yet to start. A schedule through April 4 was unveiled Friday and the remaining 29 regular-season Fort Wayne games will be announced later.
In an effort to keep travel to a minimum, so costs are down and COVID-19 safety amplified, the Komets are playing the bulk of their games against the only teams within 300 miles of the Coliseum -- Wheeling and the Indy Fuel.
Of the 21 scheduled Fort Wayne games, 10 are at the Coliseum.
The Komets will face Wheeling four times on the road and six times at the Coliseum, including three consecutive games Feb. 19 to 21. Fort Wayne has Blake Siebenaler and Brandon Hawkins, who spent last season with the Nailers, making the rivalry that much more interesting.
The Komets face Indy nine times in the first 21 games, including a three-game set at the Coliseum on March 26 to 28. The remaining four games are at South Carolina -- a three-game set March 19 to 21 – and at the Coliseum vs. Jacksonville on April 2.
The ECHL is realigning for this season into two seven-team conferences, and Fort Wayne will be in the Western Conference with the Allen Americans, Kansas City Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies and Wichita Thunder.
The league hasn’t yet determined whether there will be a postseason, but time has been set aside, after the completion of the regular season June 6, for an abbreviated one and the league announced standings will be determined by winning percentage.
The Allen County Department of Health has approved the Komets to allow 2,619 fans, well below the approximately 3,300 season-ticket holders they have and their league-leading average attendance of 8,090 from last season, so the team is not honoring season tickets.
However, there will be an exclusive ticket purchasing window for season-ticket holders from Jan. 25 to 30. The general public can start purchasing single-game tickets Feb. 1 at the Coliseum.
The cost for the general public is $30 for lower arena, $27 for upper arena, $21 for Pepsi Zone and $13 for the upper deck. Fans will sit in pods throughout the Coliseum and spectators sitting in pods must be from the same household.
“These are the guidelines that will make Komet hockey at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum a safe place, in conjunction with all of the measures that have been put in place,” team president Michael Franke said.
The team also announced that all games will be broadcast on WOWO, 1190 AM and 107.5 FM, as well as through Komets.com.