AP NEWS

K’s working on consistency

February 8, 2019 GMT

Garrett Clarke and Quinton Lisoway are the latest additions to the Komets’ roster but have yet to make their debuts as the team readies for three straight games in St. John’s, Newfoundland, against the Growlers.

While one might think recent additions to the roster would have the players fighting for jobs just a little bit harder : another player, Guillaume Naud, was on the roster last weekend and released before he could play a game : Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said the idea wasn’t to send messages to his players.

“We’re not trying to get guys squeezing their sticks harder,” Graham said.

But there is discontent with the direction the Komets are heading from a win-loss perspective; they are 1-3-3 in their last seven games and fallen into a tie with Kalamazoo for fourth place in the Central Division.

The biggest things Fort Wayne is concentrating on are: special teams (the power play ranks 23rd out of 27 teams at 14 percent efficiency and the penalty kill 11th at 83.2 percent); winning faceoffs; and maintaining control of the puck.

“Puck possession is one area of concern that I’ve seen the last few weeks and that I’ve tried to focus on with the guys,” captain Jamie Schaafsma said. “We’ve got to take care of the puck, and we’ve got to force teams to be chasing us, so we’re not the ones chasing all night.”

For Fort Wayne (22-17-4), which remains without All-Star Justin Hodgman (hand), things will be difficult against North Division-leading Newfoundland (30-14-2), which ranks third in offense (3.65 goals per game) and defense (2.7 goals against per game).

“We’ve got to put the work boots on. You’re battling for a (playoff) spot,” Fort Wayne’s Jake Kamrass said.

The Komets play 5:30 p.m. today at Mile One Centre, where they hope the players-only meetings over the last couple of weeks will be put to better use than they were Saturday, when they also played without Jordan Sims (hip), Trey Phillips and Oskari Halme.

“In this profession, the pressure is on us all the time, and we know that,” Schaafsma said. “To have some new guys around here, I think it’s good for us. We look forward to seeing what some of these can bring to the team. As long as you’re here, you’re part of the team and that’s all you can worry about.”

Notes: The American Red Cross and the Komets are holding a blood drive from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at Memorial Coliseum in honor of Makayla Willett, the daughter of Komets athletic trainer Matt Willett. The first 30 people with registered appointments to donate will receive free tickets to the Komets’ game that night. Those who give will receive vouchers for buy-one, get-one-free tickets for a future Komets game. Makayla, 5, has immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a disease that limits her production of platelets. 

“We want to raise awareness about this disease and would love to see the community giving blood to help patients like Makayla,” Matt Willett said.

jcohn@jg.net