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at Colorado
When: 9 p.m. today
at Rapid City
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Radio: 1190 AM
Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
The Komets acquired defenseman Dustin Molle sight unseen and the move has paid off, as Fort Wayne is 18-8-3 since the transaction.

K’s leap of faith on Molle pays off

– As much as they like to have thorough background on their players, or to have seen them play, sometimes the Komets just have to take a flier on a guy.

That’s what they did with Dustin Molle, and it sure has worked out.

In 29 games, the stay-at-home defenseman has one goal, four points and a plus-6 rating, while helping to solidify Fort Wayne’s back end.

The Komets (27-23-6) have gone 18-8-3 since Molle’s arrival.

“He’s become a real stalwart for us,” Komets coach Al Sims said, “especially as we’ve been playing with only five defensemen (the last five games).”

The Komets came upon Molle, 25, through sheer luck. He began the season with Idaho of the ECHL, tallying one goal and two points in 16 games, but was released because the roster was overcrowded.

Fort Wayne, which was in the CHL’s cellar until early February, was in need of a big, physical defenseman and Sims spotted Molle’s name in the transaction reports. He called Molle’s college coach at Alaska-Fairbanks, who gave him high marks for character, and the Komets took a chance that has paid off.

“He’s really tough to beat one-on-one, and he’s a physical defenseman, too,” Komets forward Mathieu Curadeau said of Molle. “Even in practice, he’s tough to beat. He always goes 100 percent. You should see, before games, the way he prepares. You can see he’s a serious kid, and he’s doing an amazing job right now.”

At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Molle uses his size to force onrushing forwards to the outside, and he’s not afraid to bash bodies in the corner.

“I just try to play really defensively, and I take pride in not getting scored on as much as possible when I’m out there,” Molle said, “and I like playing a physical game.”

The Komets rank fourth defensively in the 18-team CHL, allowing three goals per game heading into tonight’s match at Colorado (34-20-4), the third-ranked offensive team with 3.67 goals per game.

The Komets will still be without all-star Frankie DeAngelis, who hasn’t played since suffering a concussion when he was elbowed by Evansville’s Jeff Christian on Feb. 26.

“It’s unfortunate that he’s out,” Molle said, “but we have a lot of good players, and it hasn’t hurt us too badly.”

Molle is part of the reason why.

“Dustin is a big, strong kid, he’s willing to fight, and he’s very similar to (teammate Craig) Cescon,” Sims said. “(Molle) goes back under pressure and is better with the puck than he was at the start of the year. He’s got a lot more confidence carrying the puck, moving the puck now.”