FORT WAYNE – Jean-Michel Rizk downplayed the effectiveness of his shots, but his teammates and coaches said they are fast, heavy and accurate.
It’s a big reason that coach Al Sims has Rizk manning the point on the power play lately for the Komets, who play host to the defending-champion Florida Everblades today and Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.
He’s got a deadly shot, when you give him time and space, Sims said. He needs to use it more. He could probably have 20 or 30 goals, if he shot more.
With 12 games remaining in their first ECHL season, the Komets are eight points outside of the playoff picture at 29-28-3.
The power-play unit has remained ineffective, scoring on two of 17 opportunities in the last seven games.
Fort Wayne, which didn’t make a move at Thursday’s trade deadline, ranks last among the ECHL’s 23 teams with a power-play efficiency at 12.2 percent. The Komets have scored on only 27 of 222 opportunities with the man-advantage. Colorado has the league’s top power play (67 of 290, 23.1 percent).
That lack of success is what led Sims to try Rizk, a defensive-minded center, as a power play quarterback. He is the 13th player there this season.
I think they’re just looking to shake things up, Rizk said. We’ve been in a funk for a while.
Only two Komets players have more than two goals on the power play this season: forwards Brett Smith and Josh Brittain, who is with Norfolk of the American Hockey League.
Rizk has two goals and five points on the power play. Overall, he has 19 goals and 31 points in 59 games. His shooting percentage of 15.8 percent is second only to Thomas Beauregard’s 16.2, among players on the roster.
Still, Rizk doesn’t think his shot is all that deceptive.
No, I don’t at all, he said. I’ve been trying to work on it with (goalie) Charlie Effinger, actually, because we talk a lot about how to release the puck and he tells me sometimes that I’m too predictable. There are some shots he knows I like to do. One thing he’s told me is to change the angle right before you shoot it.
The Komets’ power play received a boost last week with the assignment of defenseman Nick Schaus from Norfolk – he had goals in back-to-back games – though defenseman Gabe Guentzel was called up to Norfolk on Wednesday, increasing the value of Rizk.
If it works for us me being back there, then it works. As long as we get the win, Rizk said.
Note: The Komets announced they raised $15,582 for the Vera Bradley Foundation’s fight against breast cancer during the Pink the Rink Weekend on Feb. 1 and 2. Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock’s jersey was auctioned off for the most, $1,200.