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Ice Chips

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    OK, Ben Meisner is no longer with the Komets. He was signed by the CHL's Allen Americans. But this might be something you will enjoy.
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A night of intrigue

The Komets' 5-4 loss to the Orlando Solar Bears had so many storylines: The return of Mickey Lang; the return of Cody Reichard; the collapse of Ben Meisner on the ice; the debut of Larkin Saalfrank. Check out the highlights, including the amazing Mike Embach goal, one of his three on the night.

Reviewing a wild night

Given the circumstances, I thought that Larkin Saalfrank did well tonight in the Komets' 5-4 loss to the Orlando Solar Bears. He stopped 8 of 10 shots, after not being on ice in full gear for more than a month.

He had played in a 2012 exhibition game with the Komets and a little more than half a game with Danville of the Federal Hockey League in early December.

"To me, the first time I put this K's sweater over my head, I thought it was a dream come true. Being able to play in a regular-season game with them, I wasn't prepared for this. I was put in a tough spot. But I've spent my whole life trying to accomplish this and it finally happened," said Saalfrank, 22, who is head instructor at The Goalie Academy in East Brunswick, N.J., which uses synthetic ice, but hadn't been in full gear on real ice for over a month.

"It was a little nerve-wracking, but how many times have I been on the bench and nothing's happened?" Saalfrank said. "Then I don't skate for a month and I get thrown into a game. But it's all about having fun and the guys kept telling me that."

I also thought the rest of the Komets did an excellent job keeping the puck away from Saalfrank. (Click here to see photos from the game.)

But let's talk for a second about why the Komets had to use Saalfrank.

I knew Andrey Makarov had been called up, and reported such, on Monday night. Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said it wasn't official until Tuesday. He said between Tuesday morning and this game, he tried to get other goalies, including Max Strang, here. But for myriad reasons, he said, it wasn't possible.

He said a college goalie is en route, and should be here Thursday.

Graham said it's not as easy as we might think to get a goalie here on short notice and that emergency goalies are used so often in the ECHL that it shouldn't be viewed contemptuously. My question is about the timing. By my count, they had from Monday afternoon, when Rochester tweeted they were calling Makarov up, to Wednesday night to get someone here. But I can't speak to who was or wasn't available.

Many of us had commented in the first period that Ben Meisner didn't look right. He was fighting the puck. Interestingly enough, some of his teammates didn't know after the game that Meisner had an accelerated heartbeat and dizziness, as team president Michael Franke reported to me. It may just be the flu, or something worse. We just don't know. But the doctor didn't feel it was urgent enough to rush Meisner to the hospital, so that could be good news. Apparently, Meisner had felt dizzy prior to the game. I don't know if he had told anyone.

General manager David Franke wasn't at the game; he was scouting an American Hockey League game.

Mike Embach's been terrific for the Komets; that first goal he had was a thing of beauty.

And if you watch my video highlights above, you will see one play in which Orlando's Taylor Matson stopped a shot that had gotten past Cody Reichard. That play could have meant a different outcome of this entire game.

I didn't think Reichard looked any different than when he was here. Lang, however, looked hungry to make the Komets look bad and he did with a goal and two assists.

Good thing the Komets got Jordon Southorn back. He's a difference maker.

  • Last chance to get in on the Ice Chips tournament challenge: Click here. The group is: Ice Chips readers. The password: wichitainsix. There are some Komets and Mad Ants taking part and I'll have some prizes for the winners. Just one bracket per person, please.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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