FORT WAYNE – 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.
Thats 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 Waynes back end.
The Komets (27-23-6) have gone 18-8-3 since Molles arrival.
Hes become a real stalwart for us, Komets coach Al Sims said, especially as weve 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 CHLs cellar until early February, was in need of a big, physical defenseman and Sims spotted Molles name in the transaction reports. He called Molles college coach at Alaska-Fairbanks, who gave him high marks for character, and the Komets took a chance that has paid off.
Hes really tough to beat one-on-one, and hes a physical defenseman, too, Komets forward Mathieu Curadeau said of Molle. Even in practice, hes tough to beat. He always goes 100 percent. You should see, before games, the way he prepares. You can see hes a serious kid, and hes doing an amazing job right now.
At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Molle uses his size to force onrushing forwards to the outside, and hes 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 Im 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 tonights 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 hasnt played since suffering a concussion when he was elbowed by Evansvilles Jeff Christian on Feb. 26.
Its unfortunate that hes out, Molle said, but we have a lot of good players, and it hasnt hurt us too badly.
Molle is part of the reason why.
Dustin is a big, strong kid, hes willing to fight, and hes 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. Hes got a lot more confidence carrying the puck, moving the puck now.