This was a whole lot of fun to write thanks to Taylor Mills! She is still completel
March 26, 2007
A fighting chance
One tough fan inspires scrappy Pascal Morency to score
With persistence and hustle, Pascal Morency is usually the most inspirational Fort Wayne Komet, firing up the crowd and his teammates by throwing his body around, fighting and always annoying opponents with his constant chatter.
Recently though, inspiration hit him like a face-first check into the boards.
When Taylor Mills was born seven years ago, she came into the world with VATER Syndrome, an association of birth defects. Among her most visible conditions, the bottom part of her right arm is missing, along with the thumb on her right hand. There are no bones in her lower right leg.
Now a Franke Park Elementary second-grader, her biggest problems are severe scoliosis and a rib-cage issue that limits the growth of her right lung. To counter that, Mills has titanium rods in her back and rib cage that have to be expanded every four to six months. Because of an infection, they were removed and then recently reinserted, increasing her height by four inches.
Taylor attends Komets home games with her family, and Friday she talked to Morency, who was sitting in the stands on a one-game suspension. He's her favorite player, she said, "because he fights."
So does she. Like Morency, very little slows Taylor down; she's pretty tough and she's also had a few surgeries. Her 24th is scheduled for April 3 to expand the rods.
"It's scary, but after you have a few, it's easier," she said.
During each of the last four seasons, Mills has visited the Komets locker room before a late-season game, providing and receiving encouragement. She showed up at 4 p.m. Sunday before the Komets played Chicago, spending 20 minutes talking with players and having her T-shirt signed.
"I just tell them good luck and play hard," she said.
A few players, including Morency, asked her to touch their stick blades for good luck. Then he promised her he'd score a goal.
That's a pretty big promise, considering Morency is known more for his fists than his wrists, accumulating 192 penalty minutes but only six goals this season. Going into Sunday's game, Morency had scored only one goal at home. No matter how good the chance or how hard he tried, the goaltender would rob him or he'd smack the puck off the post. Something always went wrong at the last second.
Hadn't he thought about maybe promising her a fight instead?
"I told myself I would do it, I prayed about it, and then I told her, `I will do everything I can to score a goal for you,'" Morency said. "I just wanted to do it for her. I was just about ready to score with my teeth, I wanted it so bad."
After the Komets got off to their customary sluggish Sunday start, coach Pat Bingham started barking on the bench, trying to get his players fired up and into the 1-1 game. The Komets often play to the level of their opponents, but Bingham wasn't going to let it happen this time against the fourth-place Hounds, who will likely face the Komets in the first round of the playoffs.
Then David Hukalo outraced a Chicago defenseman from the red line to save an icing call and started working the puck around the Chicago zone with line mates Martin Gascon and Morency. After several sharp passes, Gascon finally ripped a shot from the high slot that Chicago goaltender Brendan Cuthbert blocked, but he never saw Morency, who swooped in from behind the net to shove a backhand across the goal line.
"When I was in everybody's ear, that was perfect timing because they scored that goal simply on desire and work ethic," Bingham said. "I was able to say, `That's exactly what I was talking about. That's how it's done.' That was a big goal because of the way they got it done."
The goal gave the Komets a 2-1 lead, but Morency celebrated like it was a cup-clinching tally, spinning around, pumping his right arm and screaming with joy.
"I just got emotional, and (I) know I got help, too," Morency said, pointing up.
Without looking at Mills, who sits near the glass at the other end of the ice, Morency grabbed the puck and skated it over to Komets trainer Shawn Dundon. Usually a player won't grab the puck unless it's his first pro goal or a milestone.
"I just saw that he picked up the puck, and I wondered what he was doing," Taylor said.
She found out at the end of the first period, as Dundon gave Mills the puck.
After the goal, Morency went back to his snakebitten ways, missing on several chances, but the Komets didn't, going on to win 6-2 and raising their record to 5-0 after a visit from Taylor. After the game, Morency signed the puck for her.
"I wanted to go hard tonight and play for her," Morency said, tearing up but looking around so no one would see. "It was just for her."
This us one of those storys that really touch the heart! Taylor Mills should be an inspiration to all of us! Taylor the best of luck to you. I am sure that the good Lord is watching over you! See you at the Coliseum Taylor.
So is he coming back, or is this a huge coincidence this story comes out at this point in time?
Pascal is the only one who can come close to making up for no Chaulker this season. Bring back the "wild thing"!!!!
Some observations and comments.
Tim, since you posted above, does this mean you are still able to join us on here? I hope so as I have enjoyed reading your comments.
I thought the game last night was well played by both teams. There was a lot of hustle on the ice and I especailly liked what I saw from Bluhm, Fletcher, and Ward. I think all the "new" players played well and I am glad I do not have to decide who gets cut. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of play ( this being the first pre-season game ). The defense played well as the young players seemed to play their positions correctly. ( In fact the only glaring errors I saw were a ill placed outlet pass and a rush up the ice that began with the puck being brought dangerously close in front of Reiter by a player who has done this before. ( Ok, it was Warner both times). Still, to be fair, it was his first game also.
The announcement of an affiliation with Columbus both surprises me and pleases me to some extent.
What surprises me is the fact that for years the Franke's have resisted doing this because of a "lack of total control of their roster". Now the possibility is real that some players may be called up during critical stretches of the season. ( I suppose that possibility existed even before the agreement as the Komets are all "free agents" and have the right to move up if called upon. Still, this makes that possibility more real. It is a double edge sword and we, as fans, must keep that in mind. It's great when someone gets sent to Fort Wayne. It might not be so great when players move the other way.
If I'm not mistaken, the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL were once their affiliate and Columbus pulled out of that agreement. Now I am curious to know why.
Certainly the plus side is that Fort Wayne is in direct line to receive players. The recruiting should be a little easier that players and agents know that they will get a better look. Talent that may have not considered Fort Wayne may be less relunctant to come here as some games will be attended by NHL scouts. This places Fort Wayne on the NHL "map" again.
Like everything else we'll just have to wait and see. I haven't thought it all the way through yet. I do trust the Franke's and Al Sims to make the correct decisions and have faith in them that they have done their homework on this.
Still as fans we must remember that any "excitement" now with this agreement may be tempered later in the season by call ups.
Pascal Morency, huh? He was an exciting player. He drove the opponents nuts and was a "kamikaze" on the ice. I liked him. Still my concerns are to put the puck in the net, and to keep the puck out of our net. I'm not sure what his signing does to further those aims and until I'm satisfied with this teams offense, I would prefer another sniper.
Sorry for the book.
Nice story Blake.
I want to respond to something that seems to be a theme here and it frankly is starting to drive me nuts.....
Everyone keeps posting they want a sniper and not Pascal Morency. Hmmmm. Ok, Sniper would be great.....but where does a sniper fit onto this team as it sits right now? The players we have currently are all capable and just might put up ridiculous offensive numbers this season. Look at the guys we have folks. There are snipers all ready there on the team. Petrosso and Naurato are both those guys. Curadeau is a flat-out scoring machine at this level and a play-maker all over the ice. PC, OC, and Leo all put up numbers and will put up big numbers this season on the 2nd line, that will be much better than 2/3's of the CHL teams 1st lines. And then you have a 3rd line that will most likely have energy guys...that have the ability to score at this level as well.
We have been told we are getting a D-Man and a Forward from Springfield.
Are you guys seriously saying that if the forward is Pascal Morency and we get an AHL Defenseman you will cry about this??? With the team we have assembled and the possibilities of adding an entertaining "role" player in Pascal Morency that gives us toughness, checking, penalty killing, and maybe 20 goals a year.....you will whine about that???
If that is the case, the whining part.....you guys are seriously spoiled.
Schrock and Pascal have been compared....ok.....I agree to some extent.....but Pascal has been an AHL player since he left here what 4 years ago and would shred this AA league to pieces with his skating and grit alone. Schrock is an up and coming star at this level.....he has the ability to be an all-around player at this level and maybe at the higher AHL level.
I guess I just don't get the attitude that we always have to have more.....
I think we are loaded guys.......and if we add an AHL Pascal and AHL Defenseman........well......icing on the cake.
Schrock, Reiter, and maybe Morency = too much for me to handle ;)
Thanks Alan! I am going to clear this up with the Komets before the season gets underway. I do recieve compensation from the hockey club. Not getting rich mind you but clarification is a must since the fines are 500 dollars for first violation and 1000 for each thereafter! Not chump change for me! I will continue to rea d the posts but this is my FINAL post until I find out for sure. Again ty for the nice comment. Tim
Tim, I hope things work out in the way that allows you to continue to post.
Hit, I am not "whining" about getting another sniper. I am merely stating that you can never get too much scoring and just because this team looks good on paper, that doesn't necessarily translate into success. Last years team looked great on paper and it still struggled mightily for the first two and a half months to score. (Remember all the "talk" about what was wrong with the team and how the offense was putting too much pressure on the defense)? An example of a "can't miss player" from last year is Travis Whitehead.
I loved Morency when he was here. However he plays a certain role and all I'm trying to say is let's leave emotion out of it and use logic. Until we know what type of team we have I will always want more proven scorers.
I am not "whining" or "crying" ( to use the terms from your post). If Morency is one of the players sent, then fine. If not, then give me a guy who can put the puck in the net. I am afraid too many of us are assuming that the team will automatically score tons of goals.
AND YOU GUYS WANT THIS ??????????
Yeah mightbite what a great example. King has quite a bit of size on Morency, plus Morency's job is not to be the main enforcer.
I would take Pascal back on the Komets in a heartbeat, he is a tenacious forechecker and if the Komets were lucky enough to have him and Schrock both on the same team what an exciting thing that would be. They would have the other teams defensemen's head constantly on a swivel!
I would have to vote no to Morency.... I would vote to let a guy like Fletcher get a chance to show what he can do. Young and hungry....
I was a fan of Moerncy's; but not a huge fan. Balance was always an issue for him making him lose more fights than won, IMO. If its checking you want, I'm sure there are up and comers willing to fight for that spot on the team...
are some of you people crazy from the autumn heat...no to Pascal Morency?!! He was one of the fierciest competitors and entertaining players we have ever had wearing the orange and black...and I am a 34 year season ticket holder!!Most of the folks in my section would weep...yes weep...with joy if by some miracle we could get Pascal back!!