- Komets History
The History of the
FORT WAYNE KOMET HOCKEY CLUB Est. 1952
Ernie Berg started it all before 1952. 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. Berg took a trip to Toledo one night to watch an IHL game. That was all it took. Berg came home full of enthusiasm.
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 later to become reality. The dream came true with the dropping of the first puck at the start of the 1952-53 International Hockey League season.
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" after his wife. Her name was Kathryn but she always went by Kay.
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. He got guys who were tough and aggressive. And the Fort Wayne fans liked that.
It wasn't until the sixth game the franchise picked up its first victory. It came on a Tuesday night before a crowd of 6,381. The "K's" won 6-5 over the Grand Rapids Rockets.
The fans liked the hard-hitting Komets, too. 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 been supporting their Fort Wayne Komets.
Spanning over seven decades Komet hockey has had its 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 nine more years, the Franke family moved the team to the United Hockey League prior to the 1999-2000 season.
The Komets played eight 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 six teams from the previous season including Fort Wayne, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Port Huron, Flint and Bloomington, and a new era began. The Komets captured 3 consecutive IHL Turner Cup Championships from 2008 to 2010.
In 2010, the Komets, along with several other IHL teams, joined the Central Hockey League (CHL) for a two year stint, winning the CHL President's Cup in their second season.
Fall of 2012 presented the start of a new era in Komet Hockey, as the storied franchise joined the ECHL. The Komets captured their first ECHL title by winning the Kelly Cup on July 2, 2021.
Since the start of Komet Hockey in Fort Wayne, there have been 12 regular season championships (9 IHL, 3 UHL), 12 Division Titles (8 IHL and 4 UHL) and 10 championship titles (7 IHL Turner Cups, 1 UHL Colonial Cup, 1 CHL President's Cup, 1 ECHL Kelly Cup).
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 and have been strong members of the business community for years. Some have lived here long enough to retire from jobs they have worked since their playing days ended. Many have raised complete families in Fort Wayne.
The past owners, current owners, players and best fans in North America have kept Komet hockey alive and will celebrate the 70th anniversary season this year. The fan-player relationship in Fort Wayne has always been strong and appears never ending.
So, the tradition continues in Northeast Indiana with the 2023-24 Season, the 72nd straight year of Komet Hockey in Fort Wayne.