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K's sign 2, add toughness

Release 4, as moves keep coming

The Fort Wayne Komets' exhibition season is over, yet coach Al Sims continues to bring in more players.

The team signed left wing Jimmy Bonneau and defenseman Bobby Phillips on Sunday, the same day long awaited center Travis Whitehead arrived after a short stint with Norfolk of the American Hockey League.

The moves coincided with the releases of forwards Jeff Wheeler and T.J. Schneider, plus defensemen Zach Gieszler and Vincent Zaore-Vanie, giving the Komets 26 players as they prepare for Friday's regular-season opener at Dayton, Mich.

Because forward David Hukalo (shoulder) and defenseman Brandon Warner (hip) are injured, the Komets will likely trim about five players before the season begins.

Those cuts should start coming Monday.

The addition of Bonneau, a 24-year-old, 6-foot-3, 220-pound former eighth-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, should solidify the Komets' toughness. He had 122 penalty minutes in 46 games last season with Portland of the American Hockey League. He skated one game with Rochester of the AHL before joining Fort Wayne.

"He's a heavyweight, a real tough guy," said Sims, adding Bonneau will complement previously signed enforcers Brad MacMillan and Blair Stayzer.

"I'm hoping this will add to our mix. And I'm really hoping it will allow MacMillan to be more of a (skill) player. He's looked good in camp and I think this should get him some more ice time."

Phillips, 23, is the son of former Komets player Bob Phillips, known for his brawling. The younger Phillips is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound stay-at-home defenseman who comes to the Komets after training camps with Lake Erie of the AHL and Johnstown of the ECHL.

Phillips skated four seasons at Mercyhurst College, tallying three assists and 44 penalty minutes in 31 games in 2008-09, and Sims failed in an attempt to sign him last summer.

Whitehead, 25, had 10 goals and 25 points in 76 career games with Buffalo State

The Komets went 2-1-0 in their exhibition season, including Saturday night's 3-1 loss at Muskegon, Mich.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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