FORT WAYNE – Cody Reichard grew up in Celina, Ohio, as a Komets fan. So he’s well versed in the franchise’s history, which includes a slew of terrific goaltenders.
I went to Robbie Irons’ clinic when I played in house leagues in Fort Wayne, so I got to work with him a little bit, said Reichard, who, along with John Muse, will be the Komets’ goalies this season, which opens tonight at Memorial Coliseum.
I’ve been to the Coliseum quite a few times growing up and looked at all the names up in the rafters. So I know it’s a very prestigious organization, especially for goalies, and I feel very fortunate just to be here.
Irons’ No. 30 hangs from the Coliseum rafters. Two other goalies – Chuck Adams (No. 1) and Nick Boucher (No. 33) – will have their numbers retired Oct. 26.
But the list of great Komets goalies goes on and on – Pokey Reddick, Bruce Racine, Kevin Weekes, Tom Lawson and Kevin Reiter.
When you play goalie at the Coliseum, you aren’t just expected to win. You are expected to dominate. The team has won nine championships in 61 seasons.
That’s probably why Muse, who wasn’t as knowledgeable of the team’s history, has been told by just about every coach, owner, staffer and fan about the expectations since he arrived in town.
Muse, 25, who is from East Falmouth, Mass., won NCAA championships at Boston College in 2008 and 2010 and led Florida to the ECHL title in 2012.
In college from 2007 to 2011, he was 89-39-16 with a 2.40 goals-against average and 12 shutouts, while playing in 144 of the Eagles’ 162 games over four seasons.
In 2011-12, he was 16-6-3 with a 2.42 GAA and a .920 save percentage for Florida, and with Charlotte of the higher-level American Hockey League, he was 10-3-2 with a 1.81 GAA and a .941 save percentage.
But, like the Komets, last season was a down one. Muse was 9-8-4 with a 3.66 GAA and a .884 save percentage for Florida and 7-7-1 with a 3.22 GAA and a .891 save percentage with Charlotte.
Signing with the rebuilding Komets, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002, was a chance for a fresh start.
It’s a good opportunity to get here and play a lot of games and show that last year was a down year for me, said the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Muse. Last season didn’t go as I’d hoped for. But that happens sometimes. You can’t win championships every single year. This is a good opportunity for me here, and I want to prove I can play at a high level again.
Reichard, who spent his youth hockey days at old McMillen Arena, is almost an equally accomplished goalie.
He had a successful junior career – he was the North American Hockey League’s MVP and Goaltender of the Year with Fairbanks in 2008 – and then played in college for Miami (Ohio) from 2008 to 2012.
He led the nation with a GAA of 1.87 in his junior season, when he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in the nation, and he was the player of the year in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
Reichard reached the NCAA championship game, too, losing 4-3 in overtime to Boston University in 2009.
On paper, this could be the best tandem in Komets history, which is saying a lot.
But it also means that Muse and Reichard will be vying for playing time and having to understand that neither will get all the minutes he wants.
It’s competitive every year, but at the same time you have to support your goalie partner. First and foremost, it’s about being a good teammate, said Reichard, 26, who is 5-11, 165 pounds. It’ll be a healthy relationship. We both want to move up. I’m sure there will be times when John is called up, and that could be good for me. And it could be the other way around, too. It’ll be a good, healthy relationship.
Muse and Reichard trained together a few summers ago and played against each other in college. Because they know each other’s work ethic and talent, they expect to have good rapport.
That brings out the best in both goalies and it puts the team in the best position possible, Muse said.
Time will tell if Muse and Reichard can live up to the hype.