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Tailing the Komets

Who's playing well right now?

Pretty much everybody, but there have been a few players who have stood out to me.

Stephon Thorne was the No. 1 star today, and he played well, but no one on the entire team is playing better than J.M. Rizk right  now. He was all over the ice today and his defensive game might have been better than his offensive game with a goal and an assist. He's really on a tear, which is amazing considering he's always going against the opponents' No. 1 center.

When Thorne scored, you could see the weight of the world come off him, and I'm betting he'll go on a similar tear now. He was a beast today getting in Toledo players' faces.

Marino is to me, the best player on the team this year. He dominates games with his forecheck which creates so many offensive chances. He is fantastic defensively around his own net, which you don't often see in a winger. He can dominate a game without taking a shot. He's got the best feet I've seen since John Anderson.

Josh Brittain is getting better by the day. When he gets a little more physical, no one in this league will come near him. If/When the lockout ends, he'll be back in the AHL.

So will Nick Schaus who is just dominating the back end right now. He is so aggressive offensively that he's killing forwards at the blue line and then leading the rush the other way. How can this kid not be under an NHL contract?

I was impressed with Dan Nycholat today. He was struggling early, but really stepped up in the third period and made some great plays that kept Toledo out of the zone. It's not easy when you are struggling to turn it around in the same game, but he did.

You know who else is going to get a chance in the AHL if the lockout ends? Brent Henley. I thought the first two weeks he struggled to keep up with the speed, but he's a different player now and no one can get around him with that reach. He is just wasting guys physically right now and handling the puck well to boot. There was a PK today where he held the puck in the corner by himself against two guys and then three guys for about 2o seconds.

Somebody I didn't notice much, and this is a complete compliment, is Tyler Butler today. That means he didn't make many mistakes, but there was one play where a Toledo player put a dirty hit on a Komet, and Butler hit him so hard with a clean check he's probably wondering who won the election. He completely flipped the guy. Biggest hit I've seen this year so far, and it was totally legit. The kids in the crowd about flipped, too.

I also think Dan Maggio is playing very well, but he always does. He cleans up more messes for the forwards than any other defensemen because he's big enough to slow down the rush between the red line and blue line and fast enough that he beats everyone else back. It wouldn't shock me if he got a call-up if the lockout ends.

It was also fun today watching Colten Hayes play some forward, though I think he's going to be a stud defenseman by the end of the year. He's got all the tools.

Other than those guys, Chaulker is Chaulker and Smitty is Smitty. I don't think the Komets lost a faceoff in the last half of the third period when it was still a one-goal game. Anybody Al Sims sent out there was cleaning house in the circle.

I've been very impressed with Thomas Beauregard's defense which is where he's been getting his offensive chances from. He's been picking guys' pockets at the red line about once a period and taking off.

Matt Kennedy has been struggling a bit. It looks like switching back and forth between forward and center has made him think too much, which is understandable. Anaheim wants him to be a center, but he doesn't look confident there at all. Right now, it's hard to see who he can take center time away from, too.

The goaltending has been extremely good, and the defense is doing a much better job of clearing rebounds, and as Charlie Effinger said last week ``With a purpose.''

I haven't been able to figure out yet if the Komets are really this fast, or if they are just slowing teams down with their trap. Kalamazoo hasn't looked nearly as fast the last two games as the Wings did on opening night. Evansville is just slow, and Toledo has really had trouble getting through the neutral zone. I'm not sure the Walleye can keep up, and that was without Schrock, Hegarty and Giosa today, three of the Komets' fastest skaters.

Maybe it's just because the Komets are playing like the Chicago Bears a little bit right now. They are always looking to force turnovers and they are not giving the fowards any chance to move near the goal once they get into the zone. It's like Maggio is Charles Tillman the way he's taking the puck away.

It's been pretty amazing the last two weeks watching this team grow in confidence. Granted, they've  only played basically three teams, but ever since the second Gwinnett game they've been a different squad, one that is dictating the style and pace of play. The more they trust the system, the harder they are going to be to beat.

I wonder if they can be patient enough to relax and play that style at  home. If they fall behind early, will they press and create problems for themselves? If they can't find that comfort level at home early, by say Christmas, they'll win more games on the road again this season than they will at home.

I am really enjoying the Super-sized ECHL play, but I wonder what it's going to be like if the lockout ends. I'll stand by my preseason statement that the defense in this league is not as good as it was in the CHL. There just isn't as much veteran skill level back there, and each team the Komets have played has made a ton of mistakes, and they haven't had the offensive force from the blue line, either. The Komets are starting to drive teams crazy with their cycling.

Toledo could barely get out of it's own zone today in the third period because the Komets were so dominating defensively, and the fowards were controlling the puck at the other end.



Thu, 11/08/2012 - 10:11am

I've been a fan of Rizk since he came here. IMO he does not get enough credit. Really enjoy watching him play and he's a great guy off the ice also.

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 10:35am

Better be careful Janice, he cant be to nice of a guy or Darrin will think, well you know what Darrin will think! lol

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 11:09am

I think Darrin likes him more then me...he's got a man crush!

Blake Sebring
Thu, 11/08/2012 - 11:12am

TMI! That's a definite blog foul. Go to the penalty box and feel shame.

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 11:21am

lmbo! Darrin will be so proud when he reads the blog later...

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 11:38am

A real nice article, Blake.

Blake, I guess I've kinda lost track who the players are that were sent here from Norfolk.  Can you, or someone else, help me with that?  It appears that the NHL and the union are getting pretty close to an agreement and if so, we will lose some of them to a call up.

I know the Franke's built this team so in the event of the lockout ending, they wouldn't get too hurt.  Lots of guys are playing pretty good hockey right now and anyone can get called up.  You have indicated a few who would go, but do you have any more thoughts on this.

I don't know this for sure as I don't have a list from each team on the number of guys sent to the ECHL from their AHL partners, but doesn't it stand to reason that teams with two AHL affiliations ( like Toledo,  and Evansville ) are going to get killed by call ups? 

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 1:35pm


I believe the Komets were assigned five players from Norfolk -- defenseman Ryan Hegarty, goaltender Marco Cousineau, left wing Josh Brittain, defenseman Nick Schaus and right wing/center Matt Kennedy.

Chuck S
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 9:03am

Thanks Blake for your kind comments regarding Nick =, He has really been enjoying his time in Ft Wayne, he told me that the fans are the best crowds he has played for since his college time,. Hope the Komets continue to due well in the ECHL. who knows, another championship this year and then AHL team next.