The Komets have a long history of being masters of finding quality players coming out of juniors or college hockey late in the season. Temper your enthusiasm because it’s only been three games, but goaltender Alex Dubeau looks as if he’s got a chance of being just that sort of great pickup for Fort Wayne.
Including tonight’s 22 saves in a 5-1 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings, highlighted by a stop of Chris Collins during a second-period breakaway, Dubeau now has a 2-0-1 record with a .949 save percentage and a 1.62 goals-against average since arriving from the University of New Brunswick.
“It’s cool,” said Dubeau, 24. “I’m just living it and sinking it in. I’m just trying to get the respect of my teammates here and be the best for my teammates here. I’m happy about it. I think I’m confident, I’m playing confident hockey, so I’m trying to carry it out for sure.”
We don’t know when Zach Fucale will be back from Chicago of the higher-level American Hockey League, but for now Dubeau has clearly overtaken Eric Levine atop the depth chart.
“I thought Eric played good games last week. I thought his second game against Cincinnati was better,” coach Gary Graham said. “But Alex has kind of taken that No. 1 job right now and he’s running with it.”
Levine is 1-3-4 with a .886 SP and 3.48 GAA over 10 games with the Komets.
In college, Dubeau won three University Cups, and he was MVP of the playoff tournament this year. He was 14-3-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage this season.
It’s worth noting that Dubeau and Fucale know each other well; they train together in the offseason, have the same goaltending coach and played against one another in juniors.
Aside from the goaltending, the vibe in the Komets’ locker room was good tonight because they’d just played one of their most complete games of the season.
“I think we played a pretty solid game,” said defenseman Ryan Lowney, who had a goal and two assists. “We came out hot in the first period, put up four goals, and then we kind of shut them down after that and kept it a pretty boring game. We didn’t let them have any chances.”
Jake Kamrass also had a goal and two assists. And Justin Hodgman had a goal and an assist.
The Komets now have a four-point lead over the Wings for third place in the division. With six games remaining in the regular season, the Komets still have second-place Toledo in sight, too, as the Walleye is five points ahead.
“For us, it’s all about 60 minutes. We just frankly have, this year, struggled to put together three good periods consistently. It’s been an Achilles heel for us,” said Graham, who would have liked a bit stronger second period but was pleased to see his team capitalize on the great first period.
“Sometimes we get a little too high. We had a great first period and guys were happy and excited about it. And then of course the other team isn’t happy about it, so you’re going to get a better period from them. … We’ve got to understand what makes us successful and then do it for 60 minutes.”
J.C. Campagna could be back from his hip injury sometime this weekend.