FORT WAYNE – Since joining the Komets lineup Jan. 14, Danny Lapointe has sparked the offense. The center has one goal and five points in four games.
But it’s the other stuff – faceoff wins, defensive plays, determination in the corners – that has impressed coach Al Sims.
He’s been unbelievable, Sims said. He’s added a lot of grit, not that he’s a fighter or will beat anybody up, but he’s great on faceoffs. He’s a great penalty killer, 5-on-3 or 5-on-4, and our penalty killing has gone up since we got him and (Tab) Lardner (on Nov. 26), because they’re both tremendous at killing penalties.
And I think Dan, he’s showed he can score.
Lapointe signed last summer with Mississippi of the Central Hockey League before opting to play for Ruijters Eaters Geleen in the Netherlands. He had 16 goals and 29 points in 24 games there but was unhappy and wanted to come back to North America.
Lapointe called Peter South, who was the general manager last season with the now-defunct Flint Generals, for whom Lapointe played, and South called the Komets to gauge their interest. It was high, and they acquired Lapointe’s rights from Mississippi for future considerations.
It was fun and good to see Europe and everything, but as far as the hockey, it let me down a little bit, said Lapointe, a 26-year-old native of Victoria, British Columbia. I had the opportunity to come here and was really excited to come back to North America and play. I jumped on this opportunity and decided to make the most of it.
Last season, Lapointe had 20 goals and 44 points in 70 games in the IHL with Dayton and Flint, which lost to Fort Wayne in the playoff finals.
The Komets (12-17-5) are in last place in the CHL, but they are on a 7-2-4 run heading into tonight’s game at Bloomington, Ill.
With the recent additions of center Colin Chaulk, left wing Artem Podshendyalov, defenseman Dustin Molle and Lapointe, the Komets feel they will continue to climb the standings; they are two points back of Evansville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Turner Conference.
When these guys really get going 100 percent, Sims said, we’re going to be that much more effective.