FORT WAYNE – The fans in Wheeling, W.Va., must be wondering what the heck got into Jean-Michel Rizk.
He played for the Nailers in 2011 and was scoreless in seven games.
Since then, hes morphed into a bona fide star with the Komets. This season, he has 14 goals and 23 points in 36 games. And thats mostly been done from the third line, where hes been depended upon to shut down opposing star players.
That Rizk is second on the team in goal scoring – Thomas Beauregard has 15, one of which came with San Francisco – is just an unexpected bonus.
I think Im just getting the bounces, Rizk said. I havent tried to change anything. Maybe Im clicking more with my linemates; were making sure were a little more comfortable together, and that helps a lot. Without those guys, I cant do much. Theyre getting me the puck and getting me some chances to score. Its just law of averages.
In the last six games, four of which were Komets victories, Rizk has five goals and nine points.
Rizk was a seventh-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2004. He played six games with Flint in the UHL in 2007 before playing for former Komets coach Greg Puhalski at Wilfrid Laurier University.
He joined the Komets in 2011 and had 20 goals and 31 points in 55 regular-season games. In the playoffs, he blossomed with seven goals and 14 points in 18 games en route to a CHL championship.
Ever since attending training camp with the American Hockey Leagues Norfolk Admirals last fall, hes been a more confident player.
Rizker is really finding his game, and confidence is a big thing for him, too, Komets coach Al Sims said.
The Komets (19-15-2) play at Evansville (13-21-3) tonight. Then they play three games against the Cincinnati Cyclones (20-12-2), Friday through Sunday.
With Fort Wayne two points back of Cincinnati and Toledo for first place in the North Division, and every teams lineup in flux because of the end of the NHL lockout, its an important week.
Weve got to catch up, Rizk said. It will be good for us to play so many against Cincinnati. They are important points, and itll get us ready for later in the season. They are a tough team.
Note: Corey Elkins was picked as ECHL Player of the Week, after three goals and six points in four games.