Early this season, Komets rookie Bobby Phillips was preparing for a game against the Muskegon Lumberjacks and he perused the statistics of some of the players he’d be defending.
It was definitely intimidating, Phillips said of taking on the likes of Robin Bouchard and reigning IHL MVP Todd Robinson, two of the top scorers in the minor leagues.
Before Saturday night’s game against the Lumberjacks, though, Phillips was told by coach Al Sims that he and defense partner Danko Mironovic would be matching up against Bouchard and Robinson, the IHL’s top two scorers, respectively.
Phillips, who was selected IHL Rookie of the Week, was not afraid.
I feel like I’ve adjusted to this level of play, Phillips said, and I feel comfortable. Guys like Bouchard and Robinson have certain tendencies and we have to keep them away from the net.
Phillips’ excellence hasn’t been reserved for just the defensive side of the rink. His first professional goal forced overtime against Bloomington on Friday – the Komets won 3-2 in a shootout – and his attack on the net set up Konstantin Shafranov’s game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory over the Lumberjacks on Saturday.
The defending-champion Komets, who downed Dayton 3-0 Sunday, are on a 5-0-1 run, their best of the season. With a 20-11-2 record, the Komets are seven points back of second-place Muskegon.
(Phillips) is showing some offense, Sims said. He’s always been a great skater with the puck, but it’s turning into offense for us now, which is great. Any offense we can find, whether it’s in the back end or from the forwards, it’s big. Bobby’s been doing it at both ends.
Phillips, 24, is in his first season out of Mercyhurst College.
Phillips has one goal, seven points and a team-best plus-16 rating in 33 games.
He’s helped the Komets to the No. 1 defensive ranking in the IHL, as they give up 2.55 goals per game. But he has been making a concerted effort to provide offense, since the Komets have a dearth of that from the blue line. Guy Dupuis has 23 points and Frankie DeAngelis has 13.
Don’t hold your breath; those may have been a couple flukes (last weekend), Phillips said of his goal and assist. But hopefully it keeps up. It’s something I’ve been thinking about. I feel pretty confident on the defensive end, so I want to start working on my offense. Hopefully that comes around for me.
The Komets got a boost to their offense Monday, when top-line left wing Matt Syroczynski returned from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. He totaled six goals and 10 points in 30 games with Norfolk.
He has five goals and eight points in five games with Fort Wayne this season.
Notes: Forward Mitch Woods, who hasn’t played with the Komets since 2007-08, is expected to be at practice today. To make room, the Komets will have to release somebody before Friday’s game against Flint. The Komets’ Tim Haun was selected as goaltender of the week after going 3-0-0 with 1.09 goals-against average, a .967 save percentage and a shutout.