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Avalanche Prospects Contribute In Fort Wayne

by Zach Stieneker / Colorado Avalanche

The Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL had an impressive 2015-16 campaign in what was their second season as a minor-league affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.

After beginning the year 10-8-0, the team headed into December with a busy schedule of 11 games in 23 nights. With a league-leading power play, the club improved to 17-10-2 on a streak that included gaining seven points in four contests in the week that spanned into 2016.

The Komets remained steady in the following weeks, with five consecutive wins from Jan. 13-22. After improving to 31-17-5 in February, March was another successful month for the squad as it held the top spot in the Midwest Division and clinched a playoff berth after a 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Cyclones on March 29.

  Avalanche prospect Troy Bourke.

Fort Wayne secured its first division title in the ECHL after leading the Midwest for much of its 89-point season. The Komets finished second in the Western Conference with a record of 40-23-9.

The playoffs opened against the seventh-seeded Cincinnati Cyclones, and despite dropping the first two games at home, the Komets answered with an authoritative 8-0 shutout in Cincinnati in their third meeting. Avalanche prospects Troy Bourke and Trevor Cheek each recorded two points in the victory.

The next two games were not resolved until the second overtime, in which Fort Wayne won the first contest and Cincinnati took the second. The Komets returned home to win the final two meetings, earning a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 6 before closing out the series with a 2-0 shutout in Game 7.

Fort Wayne cruised to the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Utah Grizzlies in four games during the second round.

Ultimately, the Komets' six-game winning streak was broken by a 3-2 loss in the first outing of the conference finals against the Allen Americans. Overtime was needed to determine the result of the second meeting, but the Americans were again victorious. The teams split the next two games, with Fort Wayne winning 2-1 in Game 3 before Allen erased a three-goal, third-period deficit to pick up a 6-5 overtime victory in the fourth contest.

The Komets were almost able to stave off elimination after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 5 on goals by Avs defensive prospect Cody Corbett and Komets Team MVP Shawn Szydlowski. However, the Americans quickly answered with two goals to tie the game heading into the first intermission and created a two-goal lead in the second period en route to the game and series victory.

Several Colorado prospects on Fort Wayne displayed notable numbers in both the regular season and playoffs.

Colorado prospect Mason Geertsen.

At left wing, Bourke tied for the second-most points during the postseason with 16 (seven goals, nine assists). Cheek was also productive at forward in the playoffs with 13 points on five tallies and eight helpers. Right wing Garrett Meurs notched 35 points (18 goals, 17 assists) in 51 outings during the regular season. Goaltender Spencer Martin played 20 games with the Komets, registering a .878 save percentage and 3.23 goals-against average and finished with a record of 9-9-0-1. Defenseman Mason Geertsen took the ice 21 times in a Fort Wayne uniform to record four points (one goal, three assists) and an even plus/minus rating.

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