FORT WAYNE – Mike Vaskivuo’s first stint with the Komets was short but historic.
He had two goals and nine points in six regular-season games, then totaled 10 goals and 24 points in 18 playoff games en route to the 2012 CHL championship. He was selected as the league’s Playoff MVP.
Now he’s coming back.
The Komets re-signed Vaskivuo on Monday, while also inking forward Jake Hauswirth and trading all-star defenseman Daniel Maggio to San Francisco to complete the July 26 trade for defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin.
I’m definitely excited (to be coming back), especially with all the memories I made there last time, said Vaskivuo, a 27-year-old forward. But it’s a whole new season, a whole new team and a lot of new faces.
After a tumultuous 54-game start to the 2011-12 season with Rapid City, Vaskivuo was released and brought in off waivers to Fort Wayne, which had lost playmaker Artem Podshendyalov to Russia.
Vaskivuo said the guy who got him to come to Fort Wayne back then was assistant coach Gary Graham, hired this summer to be the Komets’ head coach after the retirement of Al Sims.
(Graham is) the guy who kind of found me before I got to Fort Wayne and gave me the opportunity, said Vaskivuo, who scored the overtime series-clinching goal at Rapid City, S.D., in the second round of the 2012 playoffs.
(Graham) holds a special place for me and it’s why I’m coming back. It looks like a good team, on paper.
The Komets have signed 13 forwards and seven defensemen so far.
This season opens Oct. 19 at Memorial Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye.
Vaskivuo played last season in France for Grenoble, scoring 15 goals and 28 points in 23 games.
It was definitely something new. I’d never really played over there, he said. Socially, it was kind of awkward because they didn’t speak English. Hockeywise it was a different game and an eye-opener.
Vaskivuo is embracing the heightened expectations for his second stint with the Komets.
Absolutely, that’s what I’ve always been as a player, is a guy who looks to score and produce that way, Vaskivuo said.
It’s a good opportunity for me to help the team obviously and help myself and maybe get some looks at the higher level. I’m ready for the expectations but it’s about having fun. As long as I’m having fun, it’ll be great.
Hauswirth, 25, played six games with Ontario of the ECHL last season, scoring one goal, and he was in 44 games with Arizona of the CHL, tallying 15 goals and 28 points.
Jake is a big, steady centerman that’s reliable in all three zones,’ Graham said. For a big guy (6-foot-5, 215 pounds), he skates very well and I’m looking forward to working with him.
Maggio, 22, played 43 games last season with the Komets, totaling five goals, 18 points and 147 penalty minutes, and he played 26 games in the higher-level American Hockey League with Lake Erie and Bridgeport, scoring one goal, four points and 110 penalty minutes.
He also helped the Komets to the 2012 title, playing 15 playoff games after his junior career for Oshawa.