FORT WAYNE – For the last time, the Komets of 2013-14 gathered together at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night to mingle with the fans, have their jerseys auctioned off and talk about a season that ended in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
Among questions that were answered:
Team President Michael Franke lauded the performance of head coach Gary Graham, who in his first season led the Komets to a 36-24-12 record, good enough for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. The K’s defeated defending champ Reading in five games in the first round of the playoffs and fell to Cincinnati in six, culminating with a 4-1 loss at U.S. Bank Arena on Tuesday.
We really like the coaching combination of Gary and (Konstantin Shafranov) as an assistant coach, Franke said. And we expect big things from them in the future.
Captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, a native of Fort Wayne who has won two championships in five years with the Komets, was noncommittal on if he will retire this summer. He tallied seven goals, 15 points, a minus-12 rating and 169 penalty minutes in 79 games in the regular season and playoffs.
It’s a little early to say if I’ve played my last game or not, said Schrock, adding he has opportunities outside of hockey he has to consider.
Forward Brandon Marino, who led the ECHL with 88 points in the regular season and finished third in MVP voting, is OK after suffering a knee injury in the third period of Tuesday’s game. Marino, who had one goal, five points and a minus-10 rating in 11 playoff games, said he hyperextended his knee when he lost an edge going into the corner.
Broadcaster Bob Chase, who has called games for WOWO 1190 AM in 61 of the Komets’ 62 seasons, said he will return next season. He skipped some road games this season, and Shane Albahrani filled in.
Through the auction, the Komets raised $17,925 with game-worn jerseys and other memorabilia. The net proceeds will go to charity.
Schrock’s jersey went for the most money, $2,500, and the jerseys of Marino and goaltender Ben Meisner sold for $1,800 apiece.
They are mementos of a tumultuous season that saw a franchise-record 12 trades, the use of a record nine goalies and inconsistent play before the Komets solidified things in January. They won eight of their final 11 regular-season games before making the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years.
Sometimes, guys just don’t mesh for whatever reason it is, Graham said. Looking back, maybe I over-recruited the same type of players in the offseason. That’s something I can learn and grow from. Once we got some different types of players into our roster, some more role guys and guys for different situations, our team grew and improved.
Graham said adding size will be a priority for next season.