FORT WAYNE – Some goaltenders accustomed to starting almost every game might find it difficult to sit out four straight games.
They also might find it difficult to get their focus and timing back.
Charlie Effinger, apparently, is not among them. Effinger stopped 43 shots in the Komets’ 1-0 victory over the Gwinnett Gladiators before 7,207 fans Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.
Earlier in my career, it might have been more deflating to my confidence, Effinger said of sitting out since Oct. 12. But this is my fifth year, and I try to bring my daily approach, whether I play 50 games or if I play 10 games, whatever it is.
When they call my number, I want to be ready to go.
Effinger hadn’t played since allowing four goals on 25 shots, and getting pulled after two periods, in the season-opening 4-1 loss to Evansville.
That gave him more than two weeks to stew as impressive performances were turned in by goalies Kenny Reiter and Marco Cousineau, assigned to Fort Wayne by the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers and NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, respectively.
But Effinger was one of the Komets’ big free-agent signings over the summer for a reason: he almost led Missouri to an upset of the eventual-champion Komets in the CHL’s Turner Conference finals last season.
We obviously have three great goalies and I’ve really tried to take it upon myself to compete really hard against two great goalies during practice over the last two weeks, Effinger said.
Fortunately, we were able to get the win tonight, and I was able to contribute, and it feels good, for sure.
He stopped 22 shots in the first two periods Saturday, and he got a little bit of offensive help early when left wing Josh Brittain put the rebound of a Brandon Marino shot past goalie Mike Lee.
Marino, the CHL’s MVP last season with Quad City, has five goals and 11 points in six games this season.
Earlier in the day, Komets (3-2-1) defenseman Brent Henley was suspended one game by the ECHL for his actions in Friday’s 4-2 loss to Gwinnett (3-3-1) at the Coliseum.
Henley punched Gwinnett’s Tyler Murovich several times, with his gloves on, to set off a brawl with 7 seconds remaining and was given a match penalty.
The lack of offense was made up for by Effinger, 26, whose career began with the Gladiators in 2008.
We decided before the game that it would be a tight, low-scoring game and we were going to try to win it 1-0. But I didn’t think that would come to fruition, Komets coach Al Sims said.
Notes: Ice Chips for Aurora, conducted by The Journal Gazette’s Justin A. Cohn to benefit the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, raised more than $5,000, mostly through the auction of sports memorabilia donated by hockey players. In the wake of the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings, 60 items were auctioned. The most money ($400) went for the goalie mask of Komets’ rival Larry Sterling.