FORT WAYNE – Marco Cousineau was turning in one of the best performances of the Komets’ season Nov. 3. With a young, porous defense in front of him, Cousineau stopped 33 of 37 shots in a 6-5 victory at Kalamazoo, Mich.
But late in the game, he suffered a groin injury, particularly frightening when you’re a goalie tasked with being flexible, doing the splits, sprawling around every possible way.
The tough part wasn’t the physical pain, though, it was being out of the lineup.
Every day, I’d walk into the locker room here and see the guys having fun on the ice, Cousineau said. That was hard.
Cousineau was unable to play for six weeks. For the Komets (22-17-2), that wasn’t such a big deal because goaltending is their strength. They have a former NCAA champion in Kenny Reiter and Charlie Effinger, whom they faced in the 2012 CHL finals.
Cousineau is the only Komets goalie on an NHL contract, with the Anaheim Ducks, and he wanted to play and get called up to Norfolk of the AHL.
He got that call Dec. 15, though it wasn’t necessarily a great thing. After missing 15 games with the Komets, he was just getting ready to get back in the lineup. A trip to Norfolk meant he was going to be sitting on the bench as a backup on a short-handed team.
When I thought I was finally going to play, I got called up (to Norfolk), and I knew it would be another couple weeks before I would play, Cousineau said, and, of course, that’s exactly what happened.
He was up with the Admirals for 2 1/2 weeks. The good news was he took shots from the AHL players in practice. But it’s tough to get amped up for a game you doubt you will play in.
They told me I was backing up, and you never know if there’s something that will happen (to the starter). If you’re ready, you’re ready, said Cousineau, 23, who has played six AHL games in his three-year pro career.
When he finally got to play again, stopping 28 of 30 shots in a 4-2 Komets victory over Gwinnett on Jan. 2, he had missed 24 games since injuring his groin in Kalamazoo.
Cousineau is 3-3-0 with a 3.17 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage for the Komets, who cut defenseman Jeremy Gates and forward Ron Cramer before today’s game against Toledo (19-16-4). Reiter is 12-6-1 with a 2.78 GAA and a .916 save percentage. He has won five straight starts, including a 36-save shutout in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory at Evansville. Effinger is 7-8-1 with a 3.65 GAA and a .889 save percentage.
All three goalies are trying to impress the scouts. Reiter, 22, is on a two-way contract with Bridgeport of the AHL. And Effinger, 27, has yet to play in the AHL.
Cousineau, who is from St. Lazare, Quebec, doesn’t worry about the comparisons, though.
It’s the same at the top (levels) or below, he said. I’m working hard and showing up. I just handle what’s in my control, what I can do. I think I can handle things well, but I just do the best I can.