FORT WAYNE — With more than half of the season done, the Komets could ill afford another loss to a North Division rival Saturday night.
Especially since that division isn’t particularly strong.
So coach Al Sims gave what he called “a lecture” during the first intermission at Evansville – the Komets were down 2-0 – and it worked.
“From there, we dominated them,” said Sims, whose team rode two goals and an assist from Brandon Marino to a 4-2 victory at the Ford Center. “We played in the offensive zone, which is Komet hockey. I don’t think we played in their end at all in the second period. We outshot them heavily and we took it to them.”
The Komets came into the night on a two-game losing streak, both to division rivals, having lost 5-3 to Toledo at Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 18 and 3-2 at Kalamazoo on Jan. 19.
The Komets (23-19-2) need to start winning most of their divisional games, and it was important to get it done Saturday, especially since Evansville is in last place at 16-25-4.
“These games in the division are really important,” Sims said. “Every game is a four-point game (in the division). Kalamazoo is starting to get it going. We can’t afford to lose three or four games in a row. We certainly didn’t want to drop a third game in a row (Saturday).”
The North Division includes Cincinnati (25-14-5), Toledo (22-17-4), Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo (19-19-4) and Evansville.
Against those teams, the Komets are 16-14-1.
That includes a 3-3-0 record against Cincinnati, a 2-5-0 mark against Toledo, a 6-4-1 record against Kalamazoo and a 5-2-0 record against Evansville.
The Komets have 15 remaining games against divisional foes, starting with Wednesday’s game at Kalamazoo.
All three division winners from the Eastern Conference will get playoff spots, as will the next best five teams in the conference.
In the next couple of weeks, the Komets expect to get help in the lineup from forward Colin Chaulk (foot), Thomas Beauregard (upper body) and Matt Syroczynski, who was re-signed after nearly three years of retirement last week.
“Matt is a proven player in the ECHL and the other leagues he has played in. He follows a long line of former Komets who have returned to the team at different times in their career and will be an impact player for us,” Komets general manager David Franke said of Syroczynski, the 2010 Playoff MVP for the Komets when they won their third straight IHL championship.