Cody Sol hoping to leave Fort Wayne Komets’ playoff loss behind
After the Fort Wayne Komets lost Game 7 of the ECHL’s Western Conference Finals in Colorado, it took Cody Sol a bit to wind down.
“That whole ride home, 22 hours on the bus was kind of stodgy,” the veteran defenseman said. “You hang out with friends and talk about the season and stuff, all the fun times you had and you enjoy each other’s company, but when you are laying on the bunk for a couple of hours or trying to get some sleep, it’s all you can think about for a couple of weeks. I was really disappointed, not in my teammates or how we did, but that we were so close. It’s crazy how sports is because you are so close, but really you accomplished nothing.
“It was tough. A lot of playoffs are still going on, and you kind of follow it but you don’t really want to. I was disappointed.”
While giving his legs and the rest of his body a rest and, as he said, clearing his head, Sol, 27, has been visiting with friends and working around his London, Ontario house. He’s also been playing on a softball team for the first time in a couple of years. The outfielders look at his size and run toward the fence when he comes up to bat.
“I can’t hit it that far,” he said with a chuckle. “It doesn’t matter how big you are, it’s all technique. It’s just like golf, too. If you try to it too hard you spray it into the forest, but if you do the perfect swing you can hit it much further.
“It’s nice for me because they head to the fence and there’s a lot of open green out there and I can get the wheels going. I’m a pretty quick runner. You don’t look fast because you have this big body, but you still gain all that ground with your big, long legs.”
So Sol’s summer has been fun, and he’s starting his regular summer part-time job of resuming workouts and skating this week, preparing for the next season. After getting a couple offers to play in Europe, he recently re-signed with the Komets for his fifth season in Fort Wayne.
Sol wasn’t a tough sell for Komets General Manager David Franke or coach Gary Graham.
“Like I tell Dave every time I meet with him, Fort Wayne has built a winning tradition and they haven’t won in a few years now, but it’s tougher in this league,” Sol said. “One of the reasons I came back is because Fort Wayne is a place you can win. It’s frustrating losing guys, but they have what to do what is best for their career. I asked Dave what his plan was and what he and Grammer are trying to build, and that’s why I signed back on. I’m happy with what they are trying to do and what they are willing to do to get a good team. I’m happy with what they are going to bring in. They are always a contender.”
The Komets have signed seven players so far, and six are returning. Sol said he was encouraged when captain Jamie Schaafsma signed again.
“There’s still a core group there, and the locker room won’t change,” he said. “We’ll bring some new guys in, but we’ll still have the chemistry, and if guys don’t fit the mold or fit the room, then you can replace them. They put a lot of ownership on the leadership group on what players belong or don’t belong. They give you some leeway with what you can do with the locker room as long as you put the performance on the ice. One of the reasons I like coming to Fort Wayne is they let you be a part of it and not just a number in the system. You are part of a family and that whole family wants to win a championship.”
No pun intended, but the 6-foot-6, 242-pound Sol was an even bigger part of that culture last season as an alternate captain, the first time Sol has worn a letter in Fort Wayne. It was a role he thrived in on and off the ice.
“It was huge for my game,” Sol said. “Statistically, my numbers went up and my penalties went down. In the past, there were some moments when I’d get fired up and my anger and temper got the best of me. That’s the game I played for years, but this helped calm me down and helped me get respect with the officials and the linesmen. In the locker room, too, I’ve always been a talkative guy, and having an A on your sweater helps get guys to listen to you.
“It was definitely huge with the officials. There were times when there would be a penalty and I’d kind of snap and wouldn’t agree with the call and I’d get my 10-minute misconducts, and then we’d have the same referee two games later and I’m getting calls against me probably for things I’d done in previous games. Obviously, referees are still human… When I’m out there, I’m the biggest guy on the ice so he can see me. My whole career has been like that. Having a letter has been great to help me understand and talk with officials and what I need to do to stay on the ice and out of the box to help my team.”
Sol put up career-best numbers last year with eight goals and 20 points, and his 119 penalty minutes are the lowest of his six-year professional career.