FORT WAYNE – On Tuesday, defenseman Brent Henley was the latest player to be called up from the Komets to the AHL.
The shuffling back and forth of players – intensified by the end of the NHL lockout – may be frustrating for Komets fans, but the team is unfazed by the state of lineup.
The new guys coming in, they just work their butts off and that’s Komet hockey, goaltender Kenny Reiter said. When we don’t stack up on paper quite as well with other teams, that’s what you need. A lot of times, hard work beats skill.
Led by Mike Hoban, Brayden Metz and Nick Wheeler, all called up from Dayton of the Federal Hockey League, and Jeremy Gates and Ron Cramer, up from Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League, the Komets (21-17-2) have won four of their last six games.
Norfolk of the AHL has nabbed four of the Komets’ top six scorers – Brandon Marino, Josh Brittain, Jean-Michel Rizk and Ryan Lasch – while playmakers Colin Chaulk (foot) and Thomas Beauregard (upper body) are out with injuries.
Henley was called to Lake Erie.
The good news is that all-star defenseman Daniel Maggio was released by Bridgeport and should be in the lineup tonight at Evansville (15-21-4). Former NHL player Luca Caputi should be back from his shoulder injury, too.
But the Komets will still need contributions from the former Single-A players. Pensacola is coached by former Komets assistant Gary Graham, who utilizes the same systems as Fort Wayne coach Al Sims.
As for the systems in Dayton, Hoban said: They’re a little different there, but a lot of guys who have been called up were here for training camp and we know what’s going on. But it’s about putting it together on the ice.
Hoban has been the biggest contributor of the call-ups.
He has three points in 11 games, including the overtime game-winner in the 3-2 victory Sunday over the North Division-leading Cincinnati Cyclones.
Metz has also scored and that’s surprising since the FHL isn’t necessarily highly regarded as a pool of talent.
It’s just getting started. It’s in its third year, Hoban said. So it’s still got some things to work out.
It’s different than the (ECHL), for sure, but it’s on its way, I think. Once it gets some more teams – it’s tough with only six – it will be a little bit better.
Sims has been impressed with the composure of the players from Dayton and Pensacola.
I think when you first come up, you’re juiced up and the adrenaline is flowing, he said. You’re coming back here after (being cut in) training camp and you have a more confident attitude.
You’ve been scoring at the level you were at and you’re now a much more seasoned player.