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vs. Port Huron
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Coliseum
Radio: 1190 AM
Laura J Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Komets rookie defenseman Bobby Phillips has a plus/minus (plus-7) rating that is the best on the team.

Rookie follows father’s footsteps

Komets’ Phillips out to create own legacy

You can check out the faces if you like, of course. But Bobby Phillips will save you the trouble.

“He’s not there,” Phillips says, referring to the team photos that throw elbows and jostle for space above the lockers in the Fort Wayne Komets dressing room.

Phillips chuckles.

“He got traded before the end of the season, so …”

So Bob Phillips is not up there, staring out of some lost day in the 1980s and keeping watch from above on his own legacy Komet. Dad played 31 games for the Komets in 1981-82; his son now occupies the first locker next to the door, trying to find his place as a rookie defenseman.

It only feels weird occasionally – like when he looks across room and sees Guy Dupuis over there, the same Guy Dupuis he watched as a kid growing up in Fort Wayne.

“Oh, yeah, absolutely, I remember watching Guy,” Phillips says. “It’s funny. We moved to Indianapolis in ’94, ’95, I think, so I was here in ’93 when they won the Cup. And actually another guy on that team, Dave Smith, recruited me to Mercyhurst to play in college.”

Now here he is, back in Fort Wayne again. Playing for the team he grew up watching. Playing for the coach, Al Sims, he grew up watching, and getting sage advice on playing the blue line from a guy he grew up watching.

“I think that’s huge,” says Phillips, who’s got size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and speed and made his bones at Mercyhurst College as the consummate defensive defenseman. “With Guy and Kevin (Bertram), there’s so much experience. They’re always talking to me on the bench, just about things you do on the ice that you don’t think about but you gain the knowledge from experience.”

For now, though, just being big and fast has been enough. Though Sims thinks he has it in him to contribute at the offensive end, Phillips has lived up to his reputation in the defensive end. He has just two assists and no goals in 19 games, but his plus/minus (plus-7) is the best on the team.

“He just seems to know where the puck’s gonna go,” Sims says. “He’s great at one-on-one battles coming out with the puck in the defensive zone, which is really tough for defensemen to do. He just has a knack for winning those battles.”

Phillips figures the rest will come.

“I think I’m a pretty strong defensive defenseman,” he says. “In college I was called on to kill penalties and not get scored on. That’s what I did the last four years.

“But now that the coach has the confidence in me to start carrying the puck and stuff, I feel I can develop some more offensively. I’m never gonna be a high goal scorer or point getter, but it’d nice to bury a few.”

And add to the legacy.

Notes: Matt Syroczynski, who began the season with the Komets and went on to tally four goals and six points in 18 games with the Norfolk Admirals, was released by the American Hockey League club. Syroczynski will return to the Komets, for whom he has four goals and six points in four games this season. … Today’s game will be the Komets’ first “Wild Wednesday” game of the season. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo will have a booth in the Memorial Coliseum lobby featuring live animals and chances to win prizes.