FORT WAYNE, In. – With just under three months from the opening of the ECHL season, its never too late for Fort Wayne Komets fans to mark all of the 2018-19 Toledo Walleye games in their planners.
After another offseason that saw some divisional reshuffling, the Komets and Walleye will still be frequent foes this coming campaign. And if you’re a Komets fan who shares your salt with other rivals, expect to see a lot of the Cincinnati Cyclones, Indy Fuel, and Kalamazoo Wings, too.
The Komets remain in the Western Conference’s Central Division. Returning members include the aforementioned Cyclones, Fuel, and Wings. New to the 2018-19 season is the Wheeling Nailers of West Virginia. Gone are the Kansas City Mavericks (gone to the Western Conference’s Mountain Division) and Quad City Mallards (RIP).
The shuffling means the Central Division foes lose the Mavericks (74 points) and Mallards (55 points), who finished in the last two spots in the Central Division standings last season. The Komets were 2-4 against the Mavericks last season (even though Fort Wayne outscored KC 20-17). Against Quad City, the Komets finished 8-1, outscoring the now-defunct Mallards 45-17.
The Central gains a decent Nailers (79 points) team that finished fifth in the Eastern Conference’s North Division last season. The Komets went 4-2 against the Nailers last season, outscoring Wheeling 24-21 in six contests last year.
The subtraction of one team from the conference means there’s one big thing that Komets fans will notice in the coming year’s schedule: a lot more games against rivals. Here’s how it breaks down against the Central Division:
- vs. Toledo — 11 games in 2018-19 (five home, six away), eight games last season
- vs. Cincinnati — 11 games in 2018-19 (five home, six away), nine games last season
- vs. Indy — 11 games in 2018-19 (five home, six away), nine games last season
- vs. Kalamazoo — 13 (!) games in 2018-19 (eight home, five away), six games last season
- vs. Wheeling — Eight games in 2018-19 (three home, five away), six games last season
Clearly, someone in the ECHL offices heard the moaning from both Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo over the lack of games last season because that will be remedied this season…and then some.
KOMETS ADD TWO
The Fort Wayne Komets made two signings official Monday, including one that probably raised an eyebrow or two.
— Fort Wayne Komets (@FWKomets) July 16, 2018
Komets fans still feeling a bit sore about how their Kelly Cup series against Colorado ended can take some comfort knowing the Eagles’ backup netminder has taken his talents to Fort Wayne.
Lukas Hafner, 26, becomes the first goalie on the Komets postseason roster. After a five-game cup of coffee with the Alaska Aces in 2015-2016, Hafner went on to take part in two straight Kelly Cup-winning Colorado Eagles teams.
Hafner carried the load for the Eagles in the 2016-17 playoffs, starting 16 of 20 playoff games, tallying a 14-2 record, and finishing with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. This past season, Hafner started 20 games, registering a 3.12 GAA and a .897 SV%. He lifted the Kelly Cup for the second straight season, starting two playoff games.
Also inked for 2017-18 is center Kevin Miller. The 23-year-old will be making his ECHL debut this coming campaign, having spent the last four years with Ohio State University. In four seasons, he played 114 games and registered 24 goals and 16 assists. He also had 71 penalty minutes and ended his collegiate career a +16.
This means the Komets now have nine players on their roster. Hafner and Miller join forwards Taylor Crunk, Jamie Schaafsma, and Anthony Petruzzelli. On defense, the Komets have Jason Binkley, Kevin Gibson, Cody Sol, and Ryan Lowney inked for the coming year.
The Sin Bin’s logo contest is going on right now! Vote early and often for your favorite logo at https://thesinbin.net/logo-tournament/.