FORT WAYNE – The Komets are on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot for the 11th time in the last 12 years and for the first time in the ECHL, yet they’re still trying to improve.
I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement, coach Gary Graham said. We have, overall, had more consistent puck possession among all three lines. And even if we’re not getting scoring from our third line, you’re seeing more sustained pressure in the offensive zone and that’s a good thing.
The Komets would clinch a postseason berth with a victory over Evansville (30-29-11) tonight at Memorial Coliseum, or if the Florida Everblades lose in regulation to Reading. The Komets hold the non-shootout victories tiebreaker, 32-29, for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference over Florida.
We want to get hot, there’s no doubt about it, said Graham, whose team is 4-1-1 in its last six games.
Komets forward Brandon Marino, who leads the ECHL with 86 points, was chosen first-team all-league Thursday by coaches, broadcasters, reporters and media relations directors.
Mickey Lang, who began the season with Fort Wayne before being traded to Orlando, also made first team on the strength of his league-leading 44 goals. South Carolina goalie Jeff Jakaitis, Kalamazoo defenseman Sam Ftorek, Ontario defenseman Matt Register and Alaska forward Peter Sivak were also first-team selections.
The Komets (34-24-12) finish the regular season Saturday at the Coliseum against Toledo, after which the most likely first-round playoff opponent would be Eastern Conference leader Reading.
The Komets want to continue improving on limiting opposing teams’ offensive chances before the postseason. They have the 12th best defense, giving up 2.99 goals per game.
You always want to work on your end first, forward Chris Auger said. Offense comes from that. As playoffs get closer, you have to concentrate on details in your own end, like limiting shots from the slot and keeping teams to the outside. We seem to be successful when we collapse well in front of our own net, and we need to re-emphasize those little details.
The Komets’ offense ranks 14th with 2.96 goals per game.
We’re trying to work on the little things, the good habits going into the playoffs, defenseman Jordon Southorn said.
We have been playing playoff hockey for a while now, and we knew it would come down to the last weekend and it is. It’ll be about the little things, like chipping it in and chipping it out, battles at the blue (lines) and special teams.