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Pat Nagle prepared to backstop Toledo against Komets

Former Komet Pat Nagle was in top form this season for Toledo, earning second-team all-ECHL honors. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)

Pat Nagle will approach this playoff series just like he approaches everything, calm, prepared and ready. His outlook will be just like it was in October when he became the Toledo Walleye’s No. 1 goaltender after playing three seasons in Fort Wayne.

“Obviously, it’s a change of pace with new scenery this year,” Nagle said. “Anytime you are getting a fresh start somewhere, it’s always good for you to come in and be humble and do your work at the rink and try to get some victories on the weekend.”

In other words, he won’t get too excited about the Komets and Walleye rivalry. That’s simply not how he lives. He always tries to remain stable while everything else may be falling apart around him, slowing things down to give his teammates confidence.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Obviously, I think this rivalry has always been a fun one. I would say it’s two of the top teams in the league every single year, with great fanbases, great rinks to play in and the atmosphere in both of them is awesome. It’s almost unfortunate that we have to play each other so soon, but that’s just the way the seedings are.”

Nagle was a second-team all-ECHL selection this year after posting a remarkable 37-6-1 record with a 2.23 goals against average and .924 save percentage. Those numbers, especially the save percentage and goals against averages, are very similar to what Nagle produced during his three years as a Komet. He also had a 1.79 goals against average and .942 save percentage in Toledo’s first-round sweep of Indy.

“I’ve played with him now for eight seasons and every summer, and he’s just gotten better and better,” Toledo forward and former Komet Mike Embach said. “There’s always that confidence being in front of him that even if your guy beats you, OK, you still have to beat him. He’s taken that to another level this year. It’s been impressive to watch.”

Now Nagle faces the Komets starting Saturday with Game 1 in Toledo.

“It’s always tough going against your old team that first time, but after a game or two, you know enough guys on every team that you’re always playing against your buddies or somebody you knew from school or played against in school,” he said. “Nowadays, you are starting to see it on every single team you play against after you’ve played for a couple of years. It’s part of the sport and especially in hockey you see it almost every year the way the guys are moving teams, flip-flopping spots across all levels.”

Though he’s got plenty of former teammates and friends on the Komets, Nagle said he doesn’t expect there to be much talking going on after play. Every player will be too winded to chirp much.

“Once it comes down to the playoffs, everybody is working very hard, and it’s not as chippy and there aren’t as many comments as there are in the regular season,” Nagle said. “The games will be rough and be played hard, but they will be played the right way because both teams want to win so badly. It’s a better hockey game. Everyone is playing for something versus it’s just another Friday or Saturday night and if someone gets kicked out for doing something stupid, it’s not life-altering.”

Nagle said he has nothing bad to say about his time in Fort Wayne. He enjoyed playing here, but now he enjoys playing in Toledo. He said it’s actually been fun to be able to play both sides of the rivalry.

“You are treated well by both, and that’s why you see such competitive teams and why guys keep returning or playing for the other side if their time is up with one of the teams,” Nagle said. “They know they are going to be treated well, plus there’s so many guys from this general region who like to play close to home that you are going to see a lot of familiar faces.”

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