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vs. Bloomington
When: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: 1190 AM

Ex-Komet Varone returns with PrairieThunder

Center Rick Varone will be in the Memorial Coliseum visitors locker room tonight, and that’s not a place he envisioned he’d be this season.

After earning a spot on the IHL’s All-Rookie Team last season, when he scored 23 goals and 55 points in 75 games, he was waived by the Komets on Jan. 28.

“There was definitely shock,” said Varone, who visits the Komets (29-15-2) at 7:30 p.m. today with Bloomington (21-20-7). “I can’t be mad at them for doing what they thought was best for the team, but I was working hard and thought I was playing well, even if the points weren’t coming my way.”

Varone’s production was down this season. He had one goal and eight points in 32 games as he had struggled with a rib injury and a torn knee ligament.

Varone, 26, had hoped that finding the right linemates would help get him in the groove, and he said that despite criticisms of his defensive play, he was on the ice for only a handful of goals against.

But the Komets opted to give his spot in the lineup to forward Mitch Woods, who was coming out of retirement. Woods has two assists and 27 penalty minutes as the third-place Komets have gone 6-2-0 since the shakeup.

Varone, who was picked up by Flint and immediately traded to Bloomington, has two assists in nine games with the PrairieThunder.

“I’m having a lot of fun here,” Varone said. “There are great guys on the team, and a great coach (Jarrod Skalde). We’re up and down as far as winning, but that’s how the season goes.”

As for the Komets, coach Al Sims is enthused that his team’s early-season scoring woes seem to be a thing of the past. In the last 10 games, 10 different players have scored, and the Komets have averaged 3.6 goals.

For the season, Fort Wayne has averaged 3.22 goals, fourth best in the league, while their defense ranks first, giving up 2.37 goals per game.

“I think we’re getting some bounces now,” Sims said, “but the big thing is when you look at the diversity of the scoring, everyone is doing it. Everyone has a confident feeling they can put the puck in the net. … Our scoring has really been spread out.”