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Tailing the Komets

Local man becomes voice of Gwinnett Gladiators

Huntington North and IPFW graduate Chris Treft is the new radio voice of the Gwinnett Gladiators. He spent last year working with Adirondack in the AHL.

This is from a story I wrote about him in 2009:

Though he's just a senior on the Northrop club team, Chris Treft has already had quite a hockey life.

* When he was a baby, his uncle Larry and his grandfather Harold took him to Komets games, hiding beer and peanuts in his diaper bag.

* When Treft was 6, his uncle died and was buried wearing a Komets jersey. Because Larry inspired Chris to love hockey, Treft 's mother Yvonne always jokes one day she'll win the lottery, buy a rink and name it after Larry because that's the reason she has no money.

Now Treft plays in part for his grandfather who has diabetes and has lost part of his leg.

* When he was 13, Treft read the NHL Guide and Record book six times, and he can still quote statistics from it. Treft can name the statistics of guys who barely play in the NHL, Bruins coach Dave Rogers said.

* When he was 14, at the suggestion of Komets Guy Dupuis and Colin Chaulk, the husky Treft lost 30 pounds to get in shape and become a better player. Three games into that season he snapped his fibula.

"I cried so hard because it was the year of the NHL lockout, and I couldn't watch hockey, either," he said. "I ended up gaining all the weight back."

But that experience leads into his next hockey moment.

"I went to practice and I saw some kids slacking off," he said. "I always hated practice, but right then I decided I was going to cherish every moment I have on the ice for the rest of my life because just like that injury was unexpected, you could lose it and never play hockey again. I like hockey better than every single one of those guys out there, but if you love something so much, you have to learn to cherish it and give 110 percent on the ice."

Now Treft is a 5-foot-10, 235-pound power forward who can rarely be knocked down or away from the front of the net. He's the Bruins' second-leading scorer this season with 35 points. Sometimes opponents get on him about his weight, but he just laughs because he knows they are frustrated.

Treft learned to cherish the rest of his life one night last October. As he was driving down the south ramp from Coldwater Road onto I-69 for the trip home to Roanoke, a tire on his 1986 Durango blew, throwing the truck down the hillside. Despite rolling twice, Treft was OK because he was wearing his seat belt, but rescue workers looked at his truck and couldn't believe he was alive. The roof was smashed into the passenger-side seat, but Treft only suffered minor arm injuries.

"I want to have as much fun as possible because it could all end as quickly as that," he said. "That's how I treat life. Like breaking my leg, that accident taught me to enjoy life now instead of maybe regretting it in the future."

Which leads to what might be his best hockey experience this weekend. The Northrop club team is playing the South Side Stars from Indianapolis at 2 p.m. Sunday in Carmel for the Class 2A state title. Treft plays wing on the Bruins' top line and was their top scorer during pool play last week.

This week during a World Literature test at Huntington North, he was daydreaming about the game. When he looked up, he realized there were only three minutes left and he still had 40 questions to answer. "I want this state championship more than anything in my whole life," he said.

His whole hockey life, that is.