That deadline could be critical, though, as the Komets continue to look for a defenseman who can move the puck and quarterback their power play.Former Komet Bobby McNeil, 79, died Thursday in a Toronto hospital after an unsuccessful recent battle with brain cancer. McNeil regularly visited Fort Wayne to participate in opening-night ceremonies and play in alumni games. He came back last year to participate in the Komets' Legends game against the Detroit Red Wings alumni. A native of Timmons, Ontario, the right wing played 52 games with the Komets in the 1954-55 season, scoring nine goals and 22 points with 67 penalty minutes.
``He could skate like the wind,'' former Komets captain George Drysdale said. ``He was a great kid, a tough little guy.''Because he's a left-handed shot, defenseman Ryan Hegarty has had to be flexible. Earlier this season he was playing on the side of the ice farthest away from the Komets' bench, or on his ``off'' side. He wasn't complaining, but it took the rookie a little while to get used to.
``There are pros and cons to both sides,'' Hegarty said. ``On the off side you are usually facing most of the play, and I think you can catch it and pass it virtually anywhere. On your regular side, it's easier to shoot. It takes a little time to get used to both. I got used to the off side after I played 10-odd games there. Then I switched back, and it takes adjustment either way. Ask any defenseman and they would probably rather be on their strong side.''
Recently, Hegarty has been able to switch back because he was being paired with Daniel Maggio at first and now with Nick Wheeler. Both of them are right-handed shots. Being able to play both sides also gives him six chances to be in the lineup instead of just three.
When he was playing on his weak side, Hegarty realized he was using his backhand side a lot more than he normally would.
``It's mainly what you try to be as a player, you want to be versatile and be able to play any position and in any situation,'' he said.The ECHL holds an all-star classic every other year, and Orlando has expressed interest in hosting the next game in 2015. The Komets' management members have no interest in hosting another all-star game, partly because of the expense and amount of work involved for a small front-office staff. The last time Fort Wayne hosted one was with the United Hockey League in 2007.There will be a Komets' fan bus going to Toledo on Feb. 23. The cost is $36 per person and includes a ticket to the game. The bus will leave from the former Tokens N Tickets parking lot at 2:30 p.m., with a stop for dinner prior to arrival in Toledo. Interested fans can register at Peter Franklin Jewelers, 1111 E. Dupont Rd., 489-8964, or at Komet Kuarters, 545 Coliseum Blvd. E., 484-4411.For the second year, the Komets and the Vera Bradley Foundation are holding ``Pink the Rink'' for breast cancer research during the next two home games, Feb. 1 and 2. The event raised $15,000 last year.
The Komets will wear a one-of-a-kind jersey trimmed in white and black and sold during a silent auction starting with the game Feb. 1. The auction will end after the second intermission of the Feb. 2 game. Players' wives and significant others will sell “Pink the Rink” autographed player pucks. The pucks will be specially wrapped by the Vera Bradley Foundation and sell for $15 each with proceeds going to the Vera Bradley Foundation.Fort Wayne High School Hockey Association is holding its annual "Stick it to Cancer" event Wednesday at Lutheran Health SportsCenter. The association will donate all proceeds from the event to the American Cancer Society. There will be three high school hockey games starting at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Players will honor family and friends that have been a victim of cancer, and there will be baskets donated by the players' families which will be raffled to raise money toward the cause.The Toledo Walleye are offering $13 tickets and group rates for the Feb. 17 legends game against the Komets alumni. The alumni game will start at 2 p.m. before the modern-day matchup between the Komets and Walleye starts at 5 p.m. Fans wishing to purchase tickets can call 1-419-725-9255 and identify themselves as being with the Fort Wayne Fan Group to get the discount.
Some of the Komet legends expected to appear in the game are Kevin Bertram, Kelly Perrault, Ron Leef, Martin Burgers, John Hilworth, Steve Fletcher, Carey Lucyk, Adam Lewis and Chad Dameworth. Robbie Irons, George Drysdale, Reg Primeau and Chuck Adamson will serve as Komet Legends coaches.
Toledo Alumni expected to attend are Ted Tucker, Jim McCabe, Derek Booth, Nick Vitucci, Dan Watson and former Komet goaltender Doug Teskey, who skated for the Toledo Storm in the ECHL after a three-year stint with the Komets from 1999 to 2002 in the UHL.Last year, the average score of CHL games was 4.18 to 2.03. This year in the ECHL, it is almost identical, 4.20 to 2.04. ... With the injuries to Colin Chaulk and Thomas Beauregard and the AHL call-up to Brent Henley, the Komets' average age dropped from 26.3 to 24.8 per player. ... The Komets' annual Report Card night, which is usually a sellout, is Feb. 16. ... Former Komet Bryant Molle suffered a broken hand in Reading's game Jan. 18 and was placed on the 21-day injury list. ... The North Division race continues to be in doubt because the teams are beating up on each other. Cincinnati is 12-7-3 against division foes, Evansville is 11-11-3, Kalamazoo 14-12-4, Toledo 14-9-2 and the Komets are 15-14-1.
OnlineFor more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog, www.tailingthekomets.com.
Komets at Evansville
Faceoff: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM