Sometimes the best scouting trips having nothing to do with hockey.
When Komets General Manager David Franke attended Kevin Reiter's wedding last summer, there was no way to know then how things might work out now. Reiter's brother Kenny and best friend, Komets goaltender Nick Boucher, stood next to him for the wedding.
While Reiter retired to become a goaltending coach in Italy, Boucher led the Komets to their fourth championship in five years and Kenny Reiter tried to help Minnesota-Duluth defend its NCAA title with a 23-9-6 record.
When Boucher was considering hip surgery earlier this summer, he was talking to Kevin Reiter about it. Kevin Reiter mentioned that Kenny Reiter was going to sign again with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League with the possibility of being sent to the ECHL. The Sound Tigers don't have an ECHL affiliate, meaning the Komets might have an opportunity.
Boucher offered to talk to Franke for the Reiters.
``There were talks of him being sent here or there, but I wanted to make sure that he would end up with an organization that was going to treat him correctly,'' Kevin Reiter said.
Besides going after Missouri goaltender Charlie Effinger, Franke was more than ready to listen, especially since Boucher would be on the injured list for an extended period.
``I think word of mouth goes a long way sometimes with helping get the right guys,'' Boucher said. ``The Frankes have always been pretty open to taking guys' advice, and that's a good thing.''
The Komets quickly made an agreement with Bridgeport to gain Kenny Reiter's ECHL rights if he doesn't make the AHL team, which is his current motivation.
``Right now, the goal for me is to play well so that I can start the season and play in Bridgeport,'' Kenny Reiter said. ``Otherwise, I know that Fort Wayne is a great franchise with a history of winning. From that aspect, I am excited. From talking with both my brother and Nick and also a few conversations with David Franke, I know that Fort Wayne takes every step to help their players be successful.''
It also helps that his brother thinks Kenny will be delighted with Fort Wayne. The only time Kenny got to see Kevin play in Fort Wayne, it was against the Komets during the 2005 United Hockey League playoffs with the Missouri River Otters. The Komets won that series, but Reiter was the best player in almost every game.
``I have always looked up to him and what he has been able to accomplish in his hockey career, and I trust and respect his opinion more than anyone else's,'' Kenny Reiter said. ``As far as Kevin and/or Nick having to play in this decision? I obviously know Kevin very well, and I have a good friendship with Nick as well. However, I don't think that made a big impact in this decision. In the end, the Komets made the decision and I feel they are confident about myself and my game, and I am again excited for the opportunity to show them what I am capable of.''
Besides being goaltenders, the Reiters are similar in style. Kevin is 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, and Kenny is 5-11, 170 pounds. They both are battlers who love to skate and play the puck.
``He is a lot older, more mature and better prepared than I was coming out of college,'' Kevin Reiter said. ``I think he will do really well. Winning a national championship two years ago was a great learning experience for him and how to deal with pressure. Most of his junior and college days he was told he wasn't good enough, but he continued to work hard, and when the opportunity came knocking, he made the best of it at every level. There aren't too many guys that work harder than him in the summer in order to be ready for the season. Not only on the ice working on his technical game (which has come a long way), but in the gym as well.''
The brothers also spend a lot of time during the summers working together at camps and talking techniques with other goaltenders. Lately, they've been working in Europe. Kenny Reiter has worked hard to become a great skater, and his positioning has become exceptional.
``His mental game has come a long way, too,'' Kevin Reiter said. ``He's used to playing on the big stage now and nothing really rattles him. He has done a good job over the past year and a half of training his brain to be more positive and forward thinking.''
Simply because they have the same parents, Kevin Reiter doesn't think there will be any added pressure on Kenny. There's always pressure to play well and win in Fort Wayne in front of the Komets' fans, he said.
``But I feel that it brings out the best in you to do well for them,'' he said. ``You feel like you owe it to them to do your best night in and night out. You are expected to win. I know he will do well.
``If he does get sent to Fort Wayne, I know that he will be taken care of like no other place in AA hockey. I truly believe that there is not a better place to play AA hockey. I'm sure the Komets are one of, if not the premier organization in AA hockey. From the team, management, coaches, fans, basically everyone involved, it is a great experience to be a Komet. You are treated like family, and they go out of their way to make sure you are able to compete at 100 percent each and every day.''