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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Komets forward Matt Syroczynski has scored six goals and 12 points in eight games after returning from Norfolk of the American Hockey League.

K’s forward comes back for stability

Syroczynski proves productive after returning from AHL stint

Enough with the whispers, the rumors, the growing suspicion. Matt Syroczynski is ready to put them all to bed.

His middle name, it turns out, is not really “Ramada.”

Nor is it “Samsonite,” which is why he re-packed his always-packed bags 11 days ago, checked out of the ever-present hotel and headed west, looking to put down some roots.

Goodbye, Norfolk and the American Hockey League; hello again, Fort Wayne and the IHL.

It’s not as strange a trip as you might think, all things considered.

“No, it kind of happens a lot,” said Syroczynski, the Komets’ prolific young forward, pushing his helmet up on his forehead after another satisfying day’s work.

That’s because when the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Syroczynski left at the end of October for Norfolk, Va., he left security behind, the tradeoff for stepping up to a place where the NHL could get a good look at him.

For the next 2 1/2 months, he says, he lived in a shadowland that was neither Here nor There, sharing a hotel room and waiting on promises like a man waiting on a bus that never comes.

“Yeah, it was something where I was living in a hotel and I was on my second PTO (professional tryout), which means they can release you at any moment,” says Syroczynski, who was used primarily as a checker on Norfolk’s fourth line, skating 10 to 12 shifts per game. “There’s no security. They were talking about a contract with me, but they just kept holding off and off and they’re like, ‘Well, we’re thinking about giving you a contract,’ and it would be a week later, 10 days …

“I just got to the point where, if you’re not gonna do it, then I’m better off for myself at my age, 26, going back. It was a lifestyle choice for myself.”

So how’s it working so far?

Well, Komets coach Al Sims certainly isn’t complaining.

He looks at Syroczynski’s numbers – in eight games with the Komets, he has six goals and 12 points – and figures he could be a goal-a-game player once Syroczynski and linemates Konstantin Shafranov and Colin Chaulk are in total sync.

“I think he gives the whole team confidence offensively,” Sims says.

“Every game he’s had two or three opportunities to get goals. They’re just not going in for him yet.”

Everything else is working, though. In three victories last weekend, the Syroczynski-Chaulk-Shafranov line accounted for six goals and nine assists – and the three are still getting to know one another.

“I think Syroczynski’s got two great passers with him that would rather give up the puck rather than shoot it,” Sims says. “So I think Syro’s just got to get more in like a shooting mode. He’s trying to make plays to them, and really he should be the finisher on the line.”

Syroczynski buys that.

“I don’t think we’re totally 100 percent on the same page yet,” he says. “There (are) a couple times where it was like, ‘Ah, I should have done this or done that.’

“But that’s the good thing. We’re not there yet, and we’re still playing so well.”

bensmith@jg.net

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