Graham preaches stay on even keel

December 14, 2018

Komets coach Gary Graham has been talking much of “managing the highs and lows of games” better.

The Komets have dug themselves into early holes too often. Or, they’ve netted a big goal, only to give a big one right back to the other team.

Graham would like things to just be more even keel : as long as that consistency means consistent winning.

“Our tendencies, and what I’ve been saying is our Achilles’ heel, it’s been the same with our group the whole year,” Graham said. “And I’d like to see our group moving forward and becoming more consistent with those problems.”

Making the lineup more powerful doesn’t hurt, and the Komets did that Thursday by re-signing Mason Baptista, a move that had been rumored for a couple of days.

Baptista, a 28-year-old forward, had a career-best season for the Komets with 18 goals and 50 points in 62 games last season, then added two goals and eight points in 18 playoff games.

He began this season in Germany but was released by Freiburg after 25 games, during which he totaled one goal and 11 points. By returning to the Komets, he should help their special teams and ease the losses of Phelix Martineau and Marco Roy, who are with Laval and Chicago, respectively, of the American Hockey League.

At 8 p.m. today, the Komets (12-10-0), who have won two of their last four games, play host to the Wichita Thunder (11-9-4), which has won five straight.

The Komets are less worried about their offense, which is ranked 18th with 3 goals per game, than their defense, which is ranked 16th with 3.09 goals against per game.

Those numbers are deceiving because they’re skewed by the early-season slump. The Komets’ offense includes Justin Hodgman (fourth in the ECHL with 28 points), Jake Kamrass, J.C. Campagna and Shawn Szydlowski, the ECHL’s reigning MVP and scoring champion.

The defense, however, is prone to giving up odd-man rushes because players get caught cheating too far up ice, Graham said.

“We don’t want teams to be able to have easy looks on our goalies, and that’s something that we know we can improve upon and that’s something we’re going to keep working on every day for the rest of the season,” captain Jamie Schaafsma said.

Goaltender Zach Fucale is 7-4-0 with a 3.19 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage. Lukas Hafner is 5-5-0 with a 2.49 GAA and a .916 SP.

Both have played 11 games, but Fucale is contracted to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and atop the depth chart.

“When we do the right things, we get the results : we get the bounces : and things happen our way when we do the right things,” Fucale said.


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