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Key games
Season opener: Oct. 17, at Indianapolis
Home opener: Oct. 18, vs. Indianapolis
Thanksgiving: Nov. 27, vs. Indianapolis
New Year’s Eve: Dec. 31, vs. Indianapolis
Outdoor game: Jan. 3, at Toledo
Regular season ends: April 11, vs. Cincinnati
•To see full schedule, go to Page 3B

K’s, Indy to get reacquainted early

Next season opens with home-and-home against Fuel

– The 63rd season of Komets hockey will feature the renewed rivalry with Indianapolis.

And it won’t take long to get into full swing.

The Komets will open the 2014-15 season with a home-and-home series against the expansion Fuel with games at the renovated Fairgrounds Coliseum on Oct. 17 and Memorial Coliseum on Oct. 18.

Professional hockey teams from Fort Wayne and Indianapolis haven’t met since April 16, 1999, the Komets’ final season in the original IHL.

“We are extremely pleased with our schedule, playing 32 of 36 (home) games on the weekends and holidays, and to open up against Indianapolis in a home-and-home series is icing on the cake,” said Komets President Michael Franke, whose team is 5-1-2 in home openers against Indianapolis teams.

The Komets and Fuel will play 11 times – six times at Memorial Coliseum – including the annual Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve games.

“Coach (Scott) Hillman and the team will kick off the season with a tough pair of rivalry games,” said Fuel President Sean Hallett, whose 6,145-seat arena underwent an 18-month, $63 million renovation.

“We expect some Komets fans to make the drive down to the Coliseum, and we certainly want to send a group of Fuel fans to support the team on the road the next night.”

As it was in their first two ECHL seasons, The Komets’ schedule will have 72 games.

It will conclude at the Coliseum on April 22 against Cincinnati, which ousted Fort Wayne in the Eastern Conference semifinals this year.

Here are other highlights from the schedule, which was released Wednesday:

•Of the Komets’ home games, 13 will be on Saturdays (7:30 p.m. starts), 10 on Fridays (8 p.m.), six on Sundays (5 p.m.), five on Wednesdays (7:30 p.m.) and one apiece on Thursday and Monday (both 7:30 p.m.).

•The most frequent opponent will be Kalamazoo with 15 games, including nine at Wings Stadium in Michigan. The Komets will be the Wings’ home-opening opponent Oct. 24.

•The Komets will face Evansville and Toledo each nine times and will play Cincinnati seven times.

•The Komets will play an outdoor game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo on Jan. 3.

•The Komets won’t play any of the eight teams currently in the Western Conference, though the conference/divisional alignments and playoff format haven’t been determined.

•The longest homestand, seven games, will be Feb. 18 to March 6.

•The longest road swing, six games, will be Nov. 7 to 19.

•There will be nine sets of three games in three nights. The Komets will play four games in five nights once next season – March 18 to 22.

•The busiest month for home games will be February with eight.

•The Komets will skate in Greenville, South Carolina, for the first time Jan. 9 and 10. The farthest trip will be to Estero, Florida, to face the Everblades on Feb. 11 before playing in Orlando on Feb. 13 and 14.

•The ECHL will hold an all-star game on Jan. 21 in Orlando, after not having one this season.

Notes: Forward Matt Carter, who had 10 goals and 20 points in 39 games with the Komets in the regular season and playoffs combined, will play next season in France for Les Rapaces de Gap, that team announced. Brandon Marino and Dean Ouellet have also signed to play in Europe.