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Komets at Gwinnett
Faceoff: 7:05 p.m.
After having an abundance of defensemen for several weeks, the Fort Wayne Komets now have an excess of forwards.
The American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals recalled defenseman Gabe Guentzel after he scored four points in three Komets games last weekend and replaced him with forwards Luca Caputi, Garrett Klotz and Ryan Lasch. All three will be in the lineup tonight when the Komets face Gwinnett for the first of two games in Georgia. All three have been struggling to find consistent playing time with the Admirals.
The Komets also released defenseman Colten Hayes and center Mike Hoban. Defenseman Ryan Hegarty is expected to be activated off injured reserve for tonight's game.
That gives the Komets 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders on the active roster, meaning two forwards are going to have to sit out tonight. Kaleigh Schrock and Stephon Thorne have been struggling to find their scoring touch. The Komets usually count on them for their defense, but when the team is struggling to score, their lack of numbers stands out.
For the first time all season, there was no one representing Komets' management at Friday's road game in Kalamazoo.
Either vice president and General Manager David Franke or team president Michael Franke attends almost every Komets' road game. Out of 36 road games this season, David Franke will probably see 25 games and Michael Franke eight or nine, but Friday night they were rooting on their first love, Bishop Luers football, in Indianapolis.
Graduates of the school, each Franke has seen nine of the Knights' 10 state titles, missing one each at different times because of illness.
``You can pretty much figure if Bishop Luers is playing the day after Thanksgiving and the Komets are playing the day after Thanksgiving, we're not going to be at the Komets game,'' Michael Franke said. ``We do have a have a problem if they go to state in the future and they are in 3A because they'll be playing on Saturday, but they'll be in the first game on Saturday, so we should be able to get back in time for the hockey game.''
Besides the usually weaker attendance early in the season, one reason the Komets try to schedule away from Friday nights early in the fall is because the Franke brothers love standing next to the fence at Bishop Luers home games.
David Franke is back on the road this week at Gwinnett.
The Komets should be congratulated for making the effort to recognize and thank area service members before each home game. It seems especially appropriate taking place in the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The promotion is run in conjunction with Fifth Third Bank and service members for the program can be nominated at www.komets.com.
There's also been a dramatic change in the presentation of in-game music to more recent songs. The kids in the crowd seem to appreciate the change.
Komets winger Chris Auger had successful reconstructive anterior cruciate ligament surgery. It will be at least six months before he can skate again and eight months to play, so he's definitely going to miss the rest of this season. He's concentrating on getting ready for next season.
Sitting out that long may take five years off his life, though, as he's practically coaching from the press box.
Auger is also working with Fort Wayne native Shawn Lapp to get the word out about Syck Hockey, a brand of clothing targeting hockey players. The website is www.syckthreads.com, and the brand is also on Facebook and Twitter. The organization is also helping Jack Jablonski, the Minnesota high school player who suffered a severed spinal cord in a game last December.
Since he broke into the goals column after his early-season slump, center J.M. Rizk has six goals and an assist in the next 10 games, and Thomas Beauregard has scored six goals in his first 10 games as a Komet. That's 12 of the 30 goals the team has scored in those 10 games. ... The Komets have already played 14 of their first 16 games against North Division rivals Kalamazoo, Toledo and Cincinnati. There are still 25 games remaining against those three teams and another against Cincinnati, which has yet to play Fort Wayne. ... Komets center Colin Chaulk has scored 996 career professional points in 897 career games. ... Every team in the North Division except Kalamazoo has a better winning percentage on the road than at home.