Opposing teams had caught on that the Komets were without a policeman the last few weeks.
That was apparent last Saturday, when the Port Huron Icehawks repeatedly crashed the net, getting Fort Wayne goaltender Tim Haun so riled up that he took a baseball-like swing at an opposing player and earned a seven-game suspension from the league.
But with the return of forward Brad MacMillan, the teams enforcer, the Komets think their days of getting pushed around are over.
More than anything, I think his presence on the ice keeps other teams tough guys from doing anything foolish, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. We havent had that for a couple weeks, especially since Blair Stayzer went down (with a concussion Dec. 4).
I think MacMillan just keeps the peace more than anything and allows our skill guys to be skill guys.
MacMillan was suspended the last 15 games, after he left the penalty box Oct. 31 to fight Jason Lawmaster of Muskegon, tossing aside a linesman along the way. MacMillans actions were because he was incensed that Lawmaster had jumped the Komets Konstantin Shafranov during a brawl.
Im sick of watching hockey from up top (in the press box). Its time to get back in the lineup, MacMillan said.
You see a lot from up there and you learn some things sitting out, but 15 games is pushing it.
The Komets, who have lost four of their last five games, hope MacMillans return will feature more than fisticuffs. He is one of the few Fort Wayne players who will consistently provide traffic in front of the net, and the Komets (12-8-1) could use his energy.
One mans not going to do it. Weve got to get a couple guys on board causing some havoc, said MacMillan, who has one goal and 57 penalty minutes in six games.
MacMillan wont be the only player returning to the lineup.
Shafranov, who has two goals and six points in nine games, should play two of three games this weekend after sitting out a month with a concussion and broken facial bone. He was injured when Daytons Greg Labenski caught him with an elbow, drawing a five-game suspension.
And goalie Nick Boucher, who has been out six weeks with a hand injury, will be back in the lineup tonight Quad City.
MacMillan, Shafranov and Boucher will give us quite a push, and I think everybodys really excited about having them back in the lineup, Sims said.
The Komets play a home-and-home series against Quad City today and Saturday then travel Sunday to Bloomington, Ill. The Komets are 5-1-1 against the Mallards and PrairieThunder.
And MacMillan will be right there to keep the opposing tough guys in line.
I know what I have to do, and I know what my job is, MacMillan said. I want to give the guys some help out there.
As of lately, weve been pushed around by some teams, and we want to establish ourselves as a force again.