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Fort Wayne Komets
The Fort Wayne Komets are a minor league hockey franchise currently playing in the International Hockey League. The Fort Wayne Komets were an ice hockey team in the International Hockey League.
They play their home games at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Komets played in the previous manifestation of the International Hockey League from 1959 until 1999, when they joined the United Hockey League (which took the IHL name in 2007). They have won one post-season championship title in the UHL in 2003.
Many have wondered about Komets being spelled with a K. Berg did it. He wanted to have a name that suggested speed, flash, excitement. And he spelled it with a K instead of a C.
In all of North American professional hockey, only the Original Six teams of the NHL and the Hershey Bears of the AHL have played continuously in the same city with the same name longer than the Komets. The current Komets franchise replaced the original Fort Wayne Komets that relocated and became the Albany Choppers in 1990 before folding in that same season.
Ernie Berg was the real think tank behind the creation of this hockey team about 56 years ago. He was the one that began thinking about hockey in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But it was after the city announced plans of building the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum that triggered Berg to arrange a trip to Toledo one night in order to indulge himself and witness an IHL game. That was all it took. Berg returned home with great tornado of enthusiasm.
Berg became the team's General Manager and put together a talented hockey team. That first team was a real crowd pleaser, if not an artistic success in the real term of materialistic world. He selected the players who were tough and aggressive who eventually became the heart throb of the Fort Wayne fans. It wasn't until the 6th game when the franchise picked up its first victory. It came on before a crowd of 6,381. The K's won 6-5 over the Grand Rapids Rockets.
The fans liked the hard-hitting Komets, with their zeal, unchallenged aggression and immense passion. They soon began to fill the coliseum regularly on weekend nights and came close to filling it on week nights. From then on the fans have become the die heart supporting lovers of their Fort Wayne Komets.
For over fifty years Komet hockey had been through high and low moments. The lowest came in the summer of 1990 when, for a few days, the city did not have a team. Previous ownership moved the club to Albany, New York. A couple of days later the Franke family purchased the Flint IHL franchise and moved it to Fort Wayne, keeping the name Komets, but changing many facets of the organization. After maintaining the Komets in the IHL for 9 more years, the Franke family moved the team to the United Hockey League prior to the 1999-2000 season, ending a 47-year stint in the IHL.
With the thought of Fort Wayne building a beautiful new big building, Berg couldn't help but envision it filled with people for a hockey game. It was a dream. A dream that later enveloped into reality. The delusion came into existence with the dropping of the first puck at the start of the 1952-53 International Hockey League season.
Hockey in Fort Wayne has brought many new, fine families to the Fort Wayne area. Many Komet players from the past have made Fort Wayne their home. Many have been strong members of the business community for years. Some have lived here so long that they have retired from jobs that they have worked since their playing days ended. Many have raised complete families in Fort Wayne. The past owners, players and best fans in North America have kept Komet hockey alive over a span of 6 decades. The fan-player relationship in Fort Wayne has always been strong and appears never ending.
The Komets played 8 seasons in the UHL before the league decided to make a name change. Prior to the start of the 2007-08 season, the UHL governors decided to change the league's name to the International Hockey League (IHL) consisting of 6 teams from the previous season including Fort Wayne, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Port Huron, Flint and Bloomington as a new era begins.
In the past 55 seasons of Komet Hockey in Fort Wayne, there have been 8 regular season championships (5 IHL, 3 UHL), 12 Division Titles (8 IHL and 4 UHL) and 5 championship titles (4 IHL Turner Cups, 1 UHL Colonial Cup). The most recent championship title came in the 2002-2003 season when the Komets captured the UHL Colonial Cup.
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