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Fort Wayne Komets receive honors from PHPA

Komets goaltender Micheal Houser makes a blocker save on Colorado star Michael Joly. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets goaltender Michael Houser makes the save with the bottom of his glove and left pad. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets goaltender Michael Houser covers up as his defensemen dump a Toledo forward. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets goaltender Michael Houser used a pokecheck to make a great save on Toledo's Connor Crisp early in the third period. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets defenseman Curtis Leonard takes the puck away from Cincinnati forward Justin Vaive during the first period Saturday night. (By Tony Bailey Photography)
Curtis Leonard

At the Professional Hockey Players Association meetings in Florida, a couple members of the Komets were honored by their peers.

Curtis Leonard was named the top defenseman in the ECHL’s Western Conference, sharing the honor with Colorado’s Jake Marto, and goaltender Michael Houser receiving the top game saver award in the Western Conference. These awards are voted upon by the union membership.

In 71 games this season, Leonard scored 3 goals and added 18 assists. His +34 rating was second best in the ECHL and his efforts helped lead the Komets to 46 wins and second-place in the Central Division. The 6’3, 201lbs defenseman from Napanee, Ontario spent four seasons playing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before embarking on his pro career in 2015.

“When your peers notice your game and respect you like that, it’s very humbling,” Leonard is quoted in the PHPA press release. “Especially as a defensive defenseman you don’t receive a lot of recognition. To have people notice you for your defensive game is something I take pride in.”

The PHPA – Meridian Game Saving Goalie Award is presented to one goaltender from the American Hockey League Eastern and Western Conferences and ECHL Eastern and Western Conferences, who is known to consistently make the big save at the biggest moment of the game. He can steal a win for his team, frustrate opponents, and is regarded as the hardest goaltender to play against.

In his sixth season split between the ECHL and AHL, the 25-year-old Houser from Youngstown, Ohio had a dominant season for the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets. In 2017-18, Houser posted a 28-11-0 record including an impressive 2.73 GAA and .909 save percentage, helping the Komets to a second-place finish in the Central division. The OHL’s Goaltender of the Year and Most Outstanding Player in 2012, Houser has never had less than a .900 save percentage throughout his professional career.

“It’s cool to know that guys I play against feel like they’re playing against a good goalie and that guys on my own team feel like they’re playing in front of one too,” said Houser in the release. “We have such a deep team defensively in Fort Wayne, that playing behind those guys helps makes my job much easier.”

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