With another weekend of hockey in the rearview mirror, I’ll give you my takeaways from the last week in the ECHL, plus tell you who I would choose as the league award winners for the week.
Let’s get ‘er rollin’!
1. What’s Behind the Komets’ Red-Hot Run?
Don’t look now, but for the second time this season, the Central Division is up for grabs. The Fort Wayne Komets are not only at the top of the ECHL Power Rankings, but they are now at the top of the Central Division standings and are three wins away from sweeping the month of February, having not lost in 25 days.
During their 10-game unbeaten streak, the Komets offense has been red-hot, piling up 56 goals and scoring five or more goals in six straight contests. The Komets’ offense has been piloted by Shawn Szydlowski has 11 points (3G, 8A), Garrett Thompson has 14 points (4G, 10A) and Gabriel Desjardins has 14 points (7G, 7A) during the streak.
Defensively, the Komets have been playing very tight, allowing just 26 during the streak. Garrett Bartus has won five of the six (a shootout loss to Quad City) and has a 2.63 goals against average during the run.
Additionally, the Komets have defeated three teams currently in playoff positions; Cincinnati, Wheeling (twice) and Wichita (twice).
Fort Wayne will host Greenville for a pair Friday and Saturday, then travel to Wichita for a mid-week game next Tuesday night to round out the month.
2. Can the Norfolk Admirals Make the Playoffs?
I’ll admit, it was premature of me to throw dirt on the Norfolk Admirals’ grave when they parted ways with the Nashville Predators earlier in the season.
With the fait accompli out of the way, I’ll admit, it’s entirely possible the Norfolk Admirals could make the Kelly Cup playoffs this season.
At press time, the Admirals have won three straight games, are 5-5-0 in their last ten games heading into a contest with the South Carolina Stingrays Tuesday night. Since Christmas, the Ads have gone 10-9-4-1. Brodie Dupont has 32 points (10G, 22A) in 24 games, while Grant Besse has 25 points (10G, 15A) in 21 games. T.J. Melancon is currently fourth among ECHL defensemen in scoring, while goaltender Ty Reichenbach leads the league in saves among goaltenders with 1,089.
With the recent addition of ECHL Hall of Famer Sam Ftorek to their lineup, one has to think the Admirals could be active at the deadline. If for nothing else than to bolster the line up that still has some SPHL players on it and perhaps, secure a couple of players they could potentially qualify in the offseason.
The Admirals will finish their season-series with the South Carolina Stingrays Tuesday night, then do so against the Orlando Solar Bears — the team directly in front of them in the South Division standings — on Sunday and Monday in Orlando. From there, they only face Florida three more times, with one-off games against Manchester, Adirondack & Brampton, before ending the season with a home & home against Reading.
It appears the Admirals are headed to their best finish in the ECHL, let’s hope it pays off with getting more butts in the seats at The Scope.
Here are my choices for the league’s weekly awards.
Goalie of the Week – Branden Komm (REA): On his fourth team of the season, Branden Komm appears to have found a home in Reading, since John Muse likely to be with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the foreseeable future. After being traded for the rights for Adam Comrie, Komm pitched two straight shutouts and became the fifth Royals’ goaltender to pitch consecutive shutouts. Komm has seen action in 20 games this season with Idaho, Quad City, Manchester, and Reading, posting an overall record of 10-7-2 with two shutouts, a 2.60 goals-against average and a save percentage of .916.
Player of the Week – Garrett Ladd (TUL): While the obvious choice is Charlie Sampair, Garrett Ladd had a tremendous week. Ladd finished last week with three goals and five assists (eight points) in three games. Since signing with the Oilers in early December, Ladd has 33 points (18G, 15A) in 30 games.