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 hed 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 nights 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 IHLs top two scorers, respectively.
Phillips, who was selected IHL Rookie of the Week, was not afraid.
I feel like Ive 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 hasnt 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 Shafranovs 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. Hes always been a great skater with the puck, but its turning into offense for us now, which is great. Any offense we can find, whether its in the back end or from the forwards, its big. Bobbys 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.
Hes 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.
Dont hold your breath; those may have been a couple flukes (last weekend), Phillips said of his goal and assist. But hopefully it keeps up. Its something Ive 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 hasnt 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 Fridays 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.