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Komets

  • Komets coach at ease in playoffs
    The grin on coach Gary Graham’s face these days isn’t just because he’s gotten the Komets back into the playoffs in his first season. It’s also because this is the time of year he loves.
  • Ks hone scoring with man advantage
    Nothing has dogged the Komets this season quite like their power play, which ranked 19th among 21 teams in the regular season with an efficiency of 14 percent.
  • Hot streak in drive to playoffs has Komets feeling good
    The Komets are one of the ECHL’s hottest teams heading into the playoffs: They are 8-2-1 in their past 11 games, and they hope they are peaking at just the right time. “Hopefully.
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Whos next?
With the Komets in need of a top-line center, here are some players that might be available:
Nick Lindberg: He had 29 goals and 81 points with Port Huron last season, is a 29-year-old free agent, and has on-ice rapport with recently signed Derek Patrosso and Brandon Naurato.
Daniel Sisca: Tallied 64 points in 40 games last season in Europe and, at 27, has played alongside former Komets Luciano Aquino and David-Alexandre Beauregard.
Pascal Rheaume: Former NHL player can still play if he wants at age 37 – 21 goals, 57 points last season for Flint – but he could be retiring.
Bryan Smolinski: Former NHL player was in Flint last season, where he produced more than a point per game, and is a free agent. But he’s 38 and probably retiring, too.
Todd Robinson: Would require a trade, as rights to the former Muskegon playmaker, and 2009 IHL MVP, are held by Evansville. Rumored to be headed elsewhere in Central Hockey League.
John Mori: He had 27 goals and 65 points last season with Flint, is a free agent and is only 24. Probably will get offers in ECHL.
Kris Vernarsky: He had 21 goals and 65 points last season with Port Huron and is a 28-year-old free agent.
Chris Richards: Nearly a point per game last season for Corpus Christi of Central Hockey League. At 34, he’s a free agent.
Andrew Fournier: Had 71 points in 70 games last season for Kalamazoo of ECHL and didn’t receive a qualifying offer. He is 22.
Top 5 Colin Chaulk moments
May 4, 2003 – 10,593 watched as Chaulk led the Komets’ stifling defense to a 2-1 victory over visiting Quad City and to the Colonial Cup championship. Fort Wayne was 11-1 in the playoffs, outscoring opposition 48-21.
May 8, 2005 – Down 3-1 in the UHL semifinals to Rockford, Chaulk nets the overtime game-winner in Game 5 and Komets win the series.
April 18, 2008 – It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. A wobbly shot from 18 feet out surprised Isaac Reichmuth and cinched a 1-0 overtime playoff victory over Muskegon.
May 10, 2008 – Chaulk’s shot from the left circle, at Port Huron in Game 6 of the finals, proved to be the game-winner, as the Komets were on road back from a 3-1 series deficit.
March 25, 2009 – After missing 35 games with a staph infection so bad there was fear his foot would be amputated, Chaulk set up the game-winning power-play goal in a 4-1 victory over Flint. An ovation from 5,762 fans at Memorial Coliseum ensued.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Colin Chaulk won four titles in seven seasons with the K’s.
ANALYSIS

K’s left with huge hole

Chaulk’s departure puts onus on others to lead

Down 3-1 to Rockford in the 2005 semifinals, Colin Chaulk quipped, “Tired is for losers.”

The Komets won that series.

Three times with the Komets, in fact, Chaulk helped rally his teammates to comebacks from 3-1 deficits in playoff series. More than the points – and he tallied 625 of them in 535 games – and more than the individual awards, Chaulk’s ability to get the best out of his teammates defined his tenure with Komets.

That tenure came to a close Friday when the center agreed to play for HC Alleghe in Italy.

“Obviously, he’s a really good player, a No. 1 centerman, a great playmaker, competitor and he’s feisty,” left wing P.C. Drouin said. “He’s got a lot of attributes that you don’t see in very many players. He’s also a really good leader off the ice. … It’s going to be hard to see him go and not play with him anymore.”

Chaulk, 33, guided the Komets to four championships in seven seasons – he skated with Alleghe in 2006-07 – earning a reputation as one of the best two-way forwards in the minors. Four times, he was selected as the top defensive forward with the Komets in either the United or International Hockey Leagues. Four times, he was chosen team MVP.

Chaulk’s decision to leave the Komets casts a shadow on the team, as it readies for its first season in the IHL-Central Hockey League coalition.

“It’s true, AA hockey is changing and the salaries are coming down, teams are folding, and it’s a little scary at my age,” Chaulk said. “But I still have good seasons left here. The opportunity to go overseas came up. This is a second chance we have to experience that, and if we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it again.”

So far, the Komets have signed only three players – former Port Huron forwards Derek Patrosso and Brandon Naurato, and defenseman Bobby Phillips – and some players were waiting to see what Chaulk did before they made their decisions.

“Obviously, losing Chaulk, it’s a gut shot to the team,” forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said. “It’ll be tough to win a championship without him. That’s the truth. Anytime you lose your leader and probably your most talented player, when you lose all of that, it’s such a big blow.”

The Komets have about given up on trying to re-sign playoff MVP Matt Syroczynski, but general manager David Franke said he’s confident he can replace Chaulk’s production through free agency.

“With Colin leaving the club, it’ll mean we’ll have a different look, there’s no question about that,” Franke said.

“I think there are some players on the team right now who can step into the leadership role. They have expressed that to me in their dealings. They want to be more vocal in the locker room and on the ice. Hopefully, some of our players have picked up on stuff through the years from Colin, and they’ve learned from one of the best leaders you can have on a team.”

In the meantime, the Komets’ desire to re-sign Drouin, captain Guy Dupuis and second-line center Leo Thomas has increased.

jcohn@jg.net

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