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Breaking down K’s, divisional race

March 31, 2019

You may want to make sure you have tickets for Wednesday’s game at Memorial Coliseum against the Indy Fuel. Regular-season games don’t get much bigger, if it shakes out the way I think it will.

After the Komets’ 5-2 loss tonight to the Kansas City Mavericks, the division race has tightened so much that you should be just as concerned with the Komets making the playoffs as getting the third seed in the Central.

The Komets’ grasp on third is down to one point, after the Kalamazoo Wings defeated the second-place Toledo Walleye 3-0 in Ohio. Fifth-place Indy is six points back of Fort Wayne, and sixth-place Wheeling, which came back from a three-goal deficit to beat the Komets 6-4 on Friday, is seven points back.

If the Fuel were to sweep the home-and-home series with the Komets on Wednesday and Friday, whew, they’d have only a two-point lead going into the final two games, in which Fort Wayne would play ECHL-best Cincinnati and Wheeling and Indy.

Of course, this is predicated on the Fuel winning Sunday against Kansas City, which clinched a playoff spot tonight and has won only one of its last eight games. Indy’s season finale will be against Wheeling.

If Indy were to lose Sunday, the Komets’ chances of missing the playoffs would be minimal. The problem is with these Komets (33-25-10), who are 2-4-1 since sweeping back-to-back games at Brampton, Ontario, on March 16 and 17, is that nothing can be predicted.

“Anytime you’ve been playing good hockey with this team, it’s (then) win two, lose two, win two, lose two,” coach Gary Graham said. “It’s just that you want to get consistent and the only thing consistent with this team is how inconsistent it is.”

What felled the Komets tonight, other than an overeager pass by goalie Alex Dubeau that turned into a goal, was a slew of offensive-zone penalties. Kansas City wound up with three power-play goals to Fort Wayne’s two.

“We’ve been struggling the last couple games, but we’ll go back to the whiteboard and watch some video,” said Jake Kamrass, who scored a power-play goal by putting the rebound of a Josh Elmes shot into the bottom of the net. “We’ve just got to get back to playing some blue-collar Komet hockey. I think we got away from it a little bit tonight. Once we start playing together as five (on the ice), I think we’ll have success again.”

jcohn@jg.net