After playing so many games in so few days lately, Komets defenseman Daniel Maggio could probably use a couple of days off this week, but instead he'll play in the ECHL All-Star Game tonight in Loveland, Colo. The ECHL All-Stars will face the host Colorado Eagles starting at 9:05 p.m. Fort Wayne time.
This will be Maggio's first appearance in an all-star game, and this one is a little different from most minor league extravaganzas. The ECHL tried to pick a squad of free agent prospects to fill out the visiting team. The original lineup included 11 rookies, including Maggio, but it needed to be tweaked because of the recent end to the National Hockey League lockout.
Maggio, 21, has a very simple agenda for the game.
``It's going to be a lot of fun,'' he said. ``I don't know what to expect. I'm going to go have fun, work hard and I think it's going to be a good time.''
It might be as simple as getting ready and then going out to play. In 39 games with the Komets this year, Maggio has scored five goals and 16 points to lead the team's defensemen. When the lockout ended two weeks ago, Maggio got a quick call-up to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.
``I was there for a short time and I got to watch two games, and Sunday I played against Albany,'' he said. ``I played solid. It was good to be there and see some NHL players who hadn't been called up yet and see what their mindset was and how they worked. They tell you to be really responsible defensively, and sometimes you are afraid to make a mistake. You have to play your game and play the way that got you up there in the first place.''
That comes from playing strong defensive hockey. The AHL likes his 6-foot-3, 204-pound size, and they believe his skill set can improve as his game matures.
``I try to get better every day,'' he said. ``Fort Wayne has a great system here to get players up, as you could tell when J.M. (Rizk) and Brandon (Marino) got called up. I just have to keep working hard here, and when we get another opportunity to get called up, I think we'll be ready for it.''
The biggest area to improve on Maggio's game will be to cut down on penalties. He leads all ECHL defensemen with 134 minutes and 36 minor penalties. That's something he's been talking about with Komets coach Al Sims.
``Most of them are scrounging in front of the net and trying to stick up for teammates or myself,'' Maggio said. ``I try to stay away from stick penalties, but the penalties I take with finishing my checks and protecting teammates and being solid in front of our net, I'll take those every day, and I think Simmer is OK with those, too. I try to stay away from penalties in the third period.''