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Komets looking to increase intensity for final 10 games

March 22, 2019

The Komets are trying to take their game to another level. And they have only 10 games left in the regular season to ascend to it.

“I think it’s intensity within your game; every individual has got to raise their intensity level,” said captain Jamie Schaafsma, whose Komets (31-22-9) play the Cincinnati Cyclones at 8 p.m. today at Memorial Coliseum. “Your focus, everything, has to be elevated : every aspect of your game. Obviously, it’s hard to ask an entire team to do that. But for these types of games, we need the majority of guys to do that.”

The Cyclones (46-10-7) have clinched the Central Division title and lead the entire ECHL. The Komets are coming off a pivotal 4-3 loss to Kalamazoo at the Coliseum on Wednesday, when they were burned by turnovers in the neutral zone that allowed the Wings to get within one point of Fort Wayne for third place in the division. The Komets are seven points back of Toledo for second place.

“They want it easy on the outside,” Komets coach Gary Graham said of his players, namely the forwards, who weren’t focused on getting the puck deep into the offensive zone to set up possessions.

“Instead of getting the pucks in deep, they want to make the extra move at the blue line. When we start playing the game like that against a good team, a transition team, like Kalamazoo (it won’t work). ... We still have guys who want to do it all by themselves at the blue line instead of getting pucks in deep. The guys who got pucks in deep had success.”

On Thursday, the Komets released forward Gregg Burmaster, who was scoreless in three games.

Although the Komets have improved lately, winning five of seven since March 6, they are still looking for more offensive consistency.

“Five-on-5, we’ve got to find a way to generate more scoring chances and get the pucks in the back of the net,” Schaafsma said.

The K’s play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Indianapolis against the Fuel and at 5:15 p.m. Sunday at Toledo.

“It’s not going to come easy. It hasn’t come easy for this group all year,” Graham said. “We’ve been in a lot of one-goal and overtime games. Nothing has come easy and that’s OK, but we’ve just got to learn how to play in those situations the right way. Turning the puck over, that’s not going to win (for us).”

The Komets are a mediocre 21-19-5 against divisional opponents. All but one remaining game is against those teams.

“Over the weekend, we played some great hockey and got the pucks in deep (to beat Brampton twice),” Graham said. “But, again, it’s can we do it for three games, four games, five games? It’s the name of the game. It’s a great group of guys, but there’s an unwillingness to do this things night in, night out, day in, day out at practice. That’s why you get the fact that we can’t string things together.”

jcohn@jg.net