At any given time, there are about five players on the Komets’ roster who got there not through scouting or the coach’s connections, but because a player went to the front office and made a recommendation.
These players are my best recruiters, Komets coach Al Sims said. I always tell them when they go home, If you see anybody, give me a shout because we’d love to give them a chance.’ It happens more than you think.
That’s how the Komets got ahold of Frankie DeAngelis, a rookie defenseman who has nine goals and 41 points in 70 games and is a good bet to make the IHL’s All-Rookie Team on Wednesday.
DeAngelis was recommended to the Komets by defenseman Keith Rodger, who played with him at American International University. Rodger also turned the Komets on to Matt Woodard, another former AIU defenseman, who spent more than half the season with Fort Wayne.
The players who play in the league know what it takes for another guy to play here and maybe excel at this level, Sims said.
DeAngelis, 25, has done that. He’s fourth among IHL defensemen in scoring. His plus-29 rating is tied for the best among blue-liners with teammate Guy Dupuis. DeAngelis has two goals and 11 points on the power play, where he runs the point on the second unit.
His confidence has really grown throughout the year, Sims said.
DeAngelis, who had three goals and 10 points in 35 games last season, was unsure how he’d do as a pro.
I didn’t really know what to expect. My first time in the league, I didn’t know how it was going to be, he said. But coach Sims gave me the opportunity there, and I’m playing with a lot of great players who just make the game so much easier. I’ve just got to make sure I get the puck to the forwards – we have a lot of talented forwards – and then I’ve got to take care of our end. It’s been working out so far.
DeAngelis is 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, so he’s not an overpowering physical presence.
Since I’ve come here, I’ve improved in my defensive game, and I had talked to the coach about that at the beginning of the year, DeAngelis said. Being a smaller (defenseman), I had to be reliable and gain their trust. Once I took care of our end, was confident in our end, then I began jumping into the rush. My main concern has been giving the forwards that first pass, so they can go with momentum into that other end.
The second-place Komets have plenty of momentum – they’ve won five straight games – but Muskegon’s magic number is one to clinch the postseason’s top seed.
Notes: Fort Wayne’s Mitch Woods was suspended one game by the IHL for a spearing major in Saturday’s 5-2 victory at Dayton. Port Huron’s Mickael Bedard, who has 35 goals and 73 points, was chosen as IHL Rookie of the Year.