Although Komets defenseman Danko Mironovic was a raw rookie last season, he shined in the Turner Cup finals.
Partnered with team captain Guy Dupuis, he used his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame to help shut down the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ top line as the Komets won second consecutive title.
As the Komets near the 2010 playoffs, and go into a pivotal game tonight against the Lumberjacks, coach Al Sims is hoping Mironovic will again prove himself a menacing figure.
Danko is a lot more confident than he was a year ago, Sims said. Playing against Muskegon and their top line in the finals, that did him a lot of good. When he plays physical, and that’s what we’ve tried to do with him, once he plays physical, he’s really a force. I think he’s going to play that way in the playoffs. That’s just the way it is, and I think it’s really going to help his game.
Danko’s a steady anchor back there for us.
Mironovic is the classic stay-at-home defenseman, more concerned with what goes on in his own zone than racking up points.
He has one goal and nine points in 65 games this season, after totaling two goals and 13 points in 70 games last season.
When spring rolls around, defensemen are always scrutinized because one botched play can botch the season.
Defensemen are really under the microscope, though goalies are under the microscope the most because they’re the last line of defense, said Mironovic, a native of Zagreb, Croatia.
But we’re right there with them, I think, because if we turn the puck over, there’s no one behind us. Whereas, if a forward turns the puck over by trying to be creative, we’re still there to back him up. As a defense unit, we have to be careful this time of year.
The Komets have three rookie defensemen – Frankie DeAngelis, Bobby Phillips and Keith Rodger.
Mironovic, 23, is younger than all three rookies, and he came to the Komets straight from juniors.
They’ve had the four years of college that I haven’t had, so they do also bring a little bit to the table that I don’t know, Mironovic said. And they are a little older than me. We do always talk to each other and try to discuss different situations and learn from each other. One year at the pro level isn’t going to make you know it all. I’m still learning a lot.
And Sims has learned that Mironovic, who has a plus-34 rating in two seasons, can be trusted to be on the ice against Muskegon’s Todd Robinson and Robin Bouchard, the IHL’s top two scorers, as the Komets chase a fourth straight regular-season title. Muskegon is in first place with 100 points and six games remaining, while Fort Wayne is eight points back with seven games left.
I don’t think my job has changed too much, Mironovic said, looking back at his rookie season. I’m still a defensive defenseman and need to just keep taking care of my own zone, make it difficult for their forwards, night in and night out. In terms of my job description, it’s the same thing. But I think this year, I can bring a little bit more to the table.
Notes: The Komets’ David Franke was selected as IHL General Manager of the Year, after a vote among other general managers and governors. Franke was selected as Executive of the Year in the old IHL during 1991 and was General Manager of the Year in 1998. He also won that award in 2007 in the United Hockey League. Fort Wayne’s Bob Chase, meanwhile, was selected as Broadcaster of the Year by broadcasters, reporters and public-relations directors. Chase, 84, is in his 57th season calling games for the Komets.