• Newsletters
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS
°
Thursday, March 23, 2017
View complete forecast
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Smaller Komets don't always get short end of stick

By Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel<br /> <br /> Komets forward Mike Embach takes a hit from Tulsa forward Miles Koules during a game Jan. 13 at Memorial Coliseum. Embach is listed at 5-foot-10, and Koules is listed at 6-0.
By Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel

Komets forward Mike Embach takes a hit from Tulsa forward Miles Koules during a game Jan. 13 at Memorial Coliseum. Embach is listed at 5-foot-10, and Koules is listed at 6-0.
By Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel<br />
<br />
The Komets list defenseman Jason Binkley at 5-foot-10, and here he battles 6-3 Indy center Alex Guptill during a game in Fort Wayne on Jan. 10.
By Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel

The Komets list defenseman Jason Binkley at 5-foot-10, and here he battles 6-3 Indy center Alex Guptill during a game in Fort Wayne on Jan. 10.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Being closer to the ice has some advantages

Monday, February 06, 2017 12:00 pm
"A good big man will beat a good little man" is a boxing adage, but many believe the same is true in hockey. Three Komets are showing this season they may be wrong. Center Mike Cazzola is listed at 5-foot-8, defenseman Jason Binkley and forward Mike Embach are listed at 5-10 but sometimes they look much smaller among the giants on the ice, especially the defensemen who are often 6-2 or taller.

"I would like to be 6-0, but I have about as much weight as I can have packed on for being 5-10, ahem," Embach said with a grin. "I've never been big so I never think about it. When I look at Webs (teammate Will Weber who is 6-4), he's a huge guy and I know if I go into the corner with him it's not going to be fun, but I not like I'm not going to go hit him. I enjoy going after the big guys because they generally don't expect me to hit them."

It's more about the size of their hearts than the rest of their bodies. Desire and will can make the difference.

"The main thing is with smaller players is they have to have a high compete level," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "Initially, being a smaller guy you might not have the battle, but if you are able to compete you can make up for that in a hurry. You're in a stop and start and when that puck squirts loose, it's the smaller, quicker guys who can adjust quicker than a bigger, heavier guy. That's where that compete level comes in."

As Graham says, Embach usually comes out of the corner with the puck after the battle, and Cazzola isn't afraid of anyone. Instead of fear in front of the net or in the corners, there is technique and skill.

"A small, sneaky forward can weasel their way around a bigger defenseman, and just protect the puck around those bigger guys," Binkley said. "For me, playing defense, it's more about being positioned correctly than throwing the body around. The advantage might be that I'm smaller so they think I'm easier to hit, but that also means I move a little bit better so if they dump it to my corner I can probably make a play quicker than somebody who is bigger and slower."

He also has to be a little smarter, quick to be in the correct position and to tie up a forward's stick or block a shot, anything to prevent an opponent from scoring.

"All you have to do is watch the game and how guys play, and it doesn't matter how big somebody is," Binkley said. "There are guys in the NHL that are my size who are making an impact. I think the biggest thing is it's harder to get opportunity for somebody my size because I'm not 6-2, 6-3. It's just the reality of it. You can't help how tall you end up being, you just have to work with it. I think for being 5-9, 5-10, I make a statement with how I play and the points I put up."

Binkley has been one of the Komets' most-consistent players over the last couple of months while they have gone through so many injuries. He's picked up his scoring and his playing time almost each month.

With forwards, sometimes the shorter players have the advantage. After all, they are closer to the ice surface and the puck.

"It's easier to be deceptive," Cazzola said. "You see when pucks kind of get squirted out and smaller guys are usually the first guys on it because they can slip through checks. Loose puck in front of the net, I try to be the first guy to the puck because I can slip past defenders.

"I'm not afraid to get into the dirty areas in front of the net and in the corners. I've always known that size is going to be a knock for me so I've tried to prove to myself that I can go into those dirty areas. I've played the front on a power play before, I like going into corners and kind of out battling players to get loose pucks. I'm not afraid to get hit, or take hits and throw hits."

Embach said it's easier for smaller forwards to get inside larger defensemen, and they can slide in and out of tight spots and then get lost among the bodies in front of the net. But, as Cazzola said, if they aren't careful smaller players also get hit harder than bigger players.

"Over the years, you are used to big players trying to take your head off so you get smarter and learn to read when big hits are coming and when you are vulnerable so you learn how to protect yourself," Cazzola said. "You adapt to the league you are playing in and use your smarts."

For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.

Comments

News-Sentinel.com reserves the right to remove any content appearing on its website. Our policy will be to remove postings that constitute profanity, obscenity, libel, spam, invasion of privacy, impersonation of another, or attacks on racial, ethnic or other groups. For more information, see our user rules page.
comments powered by Disqus