Injured Komets aching to get back into the lineup
If Fort Wayne Komets fans felt sitting through one-goal games for five periods on Saturday and another three on Sunday were torture, they should consider how miserable the injured players feel. It’s a lot worse because they feel all the anxiety of the fans, but they also know exactly how the players on the ice feel, too.
“It’s the worst feeling ever because all year you’ve been battling with your teammates, and now you feel so helpless,” defensemen Ryan Culkin said. “They are doing a great job, and we want them to continue to have success, but we also want to get back as soon as possible.”
The Komets lead the Cincinnati Cyclones 2-0 in their best-of-seven ECHL Kelly Cup playoff series heading into Thursday’s Game 3 in Cincinnati. Because of a concussion suffered by Justin Hodgman Saturday night in Game 1, the Komets were skated one man below the maximum for Sunday’s game, but it didn’t hurt them. There simply wasn’t another healthy body to stick into the lineup.
There’s some hope that could change for Thursday — maybe. Marc-Olivier Roy is rehabbing a knee, Culkin a broken hand and Curtis Leonard a shoulder, but it’s possible none of the three will be ready to go yet. They all said they could go if absolutely necessary but would need more time to get to full strength.
The Komets also haven’t heard anything new on the status of forward Arthur Tyanulin who is working on recovering from a concussion in Arizona. Last week they were told he might be ready for Game 3, but they haven’t heard anything since.
Until someone gets cleared by the team doctor, the Komets will go with the 15 skaters they have available.
“I think it’s the worst watching the game and there’s no way you can help the team,” Roy said Sunday as he watched the Komets won 3-1 from the Memorial Coliseum’s upper deck. “From our point of view, you can see everything on the ice so it’s kind of frustrating. You want to be part of it so badly. I’m watching so I can learn about the other team and our team, too, for when it’s my turn.”
Watching from up top, or even from the stands, the game seems to move at a slower pace and the passing angles are much more obvious than they are on the ice during play.
“When you are way up, you see plays that develop and you really want to talk and direct them through it,” Leonard said with a laugh. “I thought we were snapping the puck around pretty good. As much as it stinks watching sometimes, it’s good to go up there and just watch and kind of learn from things, too.”
Leonard played in all of the Komets’ first 71 games before getting hurt and missing the last regular-season contest.
To stay in shape, the players skate in the morning on gamedays while their teammates are sleeping in, or with the team during regular practices while wearing jerseys that let everyone know they aren’t to be touched.
Sometimes players sitting in the stands might spot something on the ice they can use as a suggestion to an active player before the next game.
“When guys do that for me, it helps me when I’m playing,” Roy said. “Sometimes it’s funny to talk about a mistake that they made and we can all laugh together.”
That only works after wins, though.
“I go down to the room and try to point out all the positive things I saw, and the boys love it because sometimes there are little plays that don’t always seem to get noticed as much,” Culkin said. “Sometimes a little chip-in is a big part of hockey.”