Jake Pence’s championship ring came via FedEx. He doesn’t wear it often, just around the house.
But circumstances have changed since he earned the jewelry.
Pence, who helped anchor Fort Wayne’s defense to two Turner Cups, is now a member of the Flint Generals and flashing his bling with the hated Komets’ fireball logo might not be the most appreciated thing up in Michigan.
It’s been a good experience here, said Pence, who had one goal and five points in 16 games heading into Wednesday night’s game. It’s different, sure. But I’m playing with a great group of guys and the situation is good for me. It’s different not playing in front of 10,000 fans, but I knew what I was getting into here and it’s been fun.
Today, Pence will play his first game at Memorial Coliseum since the team traded him in the offseason for undisclosed compensation.
It’s a big question mark how I’ll be feeling, but it should be a lot of fun, said Pence, who was selected as the Komets’ Most Improved Player as a rookie in 2008, and twice won the Bud Gallmeier Trophy for community service.
Pence is about to begin doing charitable work with homeless shelters in the Flint area.
On the ice, the stay-at-home defenseman has been one of the few bright spots for the Generals (3-11-2), and is one of only three players on the team with a positive plus/minus rating.
I’m getting a lot of ice time and it’s a good situation for me. I’m being depended on, Pence said.
The Generals have been an enigma this season. Despite having four players with NHL experience – forwards Bryan Smolinski, Pascal Rheaume and Tony Tuzzolino, plus goaltender Jean-Francois Labbe – they are in sixth place and are nine points back of the expansion, fifth-place Dayton Gems.
It’s really awesome having these (NHL veterans) here. It’s a lot like the experience we had in Fort Wayne. The older guys are awesome at teaching and including the other people into the play and the discussions. It just hasn’t translated into too many wins yet, Pence said. It’ll be tough to keep going on the route we’re going.
The Komets, meanwhile, are 9-4-0 despite a rash of injuries and the call-up of first-line forward Matt Syroczynski to Norfolk of the American Hockey League.
Left wing Konstantin Shafranov had surgery Wednesday to repair a broken bone, general manager David Franke said, declining to elaborate further. Shafranov has missed the last four games with a concussion, thanks to an elbow from Dayton’s Greg Labenski, who got suspended five games for the act. Shafranov isn’t eligible to come off injured reserve until mid-December, and this could extend his time off.
This will be the 48th consecutive year in which the Komets have played at the Coliseum on Thanksgiving. They are 29-14-4 in those games, 8-3-0 in their last 11.