Al Sims didn't come out and say it. But I could tell, he was happy.
These are the times when it's fun to be a coach. When you tell the kids to do something and they go out, no questions asked, and make it happen.
What more could a teaching coach desire?
Friday night, he told some of his youngsters -- Kayleigh Schrock and T.J. Schneider in particular -- that they had to get dirty if they wanted to make the team.
Schrock, a rookie from Fort Wayne, proceeded to fight twice and score once. Schneider fought, too. And the Komets won 5-4 in an overtime shootout against the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Last season, the Komets were 2-9 in shootouts. Outscoring the Lumberjacks 2-1 in the shootout, with goals coming from Konstantin Shafranov and P.C. Drouin, was reason enough for Sims to smile.
Moreso, the Komets got the energy they lacked in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over Dayton. They fought seven times in the game. They had some hitting. They scored some nice goals. (The only hiccup was allowing three straight Muskegon goals in the third period.)
Now, the Komets have to keep it up in tonight's game at Muskegon, Mich., the final chance for the youngsters to show what they've got before cuts come.
It's my sense that Schrock made the team tonight. Sims also praised rookie Vince Laise, Schneider, Matt Syroczynski, Tyler Sims and Colin Chaulk, who also fought.
One thing on Chaulk, though: His back-to-back-to-back penalties in the first and second periods were uncharacteristic and even gave his coach a chuckle.
"After the last one, I had to take him to the bench," Al Sims said with a laugh. "I said, 'Come to the bench. Don't go out and get another one.' The first two times I told him to back out and three seconds later, he's back in the box. So the last time I brought him to the bench, and he said, 'I can't believe he's calling that stuff.' Must be a lot of frustration from a long summer. Chaulker, you don't see him fight very often. I think he got out all his frustration tonight and it was rather humerous."
Now, for the goaltending issue. Tyler Sims played well, stopping 21 of 24 shots after replacing Nick Boucher. And he stopped 2 of 3 in the shootout, foiling Travis Banga to cinch the victory. Tim Haun will play tomorrow.
It's my sense that Al Sims is giving the slight edge to Tyler Sims for the backup job. Why?
"To put it mildly, we're not just looking at a 30-minute performance from a guy," Al Sims said. "Timmy's got a background. Tyler's got a background. … We're going to take everything into account when we come to a final decision. I had Timmy here last year and know him like a book. He can be very strong and he can be very weak at times. We've got a better book on him than Tyler right now, as far as knowing him and what he can do for us."
Maybe I'm reading too much into that statement, but I think Sims will be the guy. Won't be at all surprised if I'm wrong, though, given how Haun played Wednesday.