Both Derek Patrosso and Brandon Naurato called it an easy choice to come play for the Komets this season. Acquaintances since they were youngsters in the Detroit area, and teammates last season with the Port Huron Icehawks, they were scheming to find a situation where they could play together, and win a championship.
Fort Wayne, which Saturday will open its 59th season but first in the Central Hockey League, made a lot of sense because of its history of winning.
And did the Komets, coming off three straight IHL titles, ever want them.
They are both such effective offensive players, said Komets coach Al Sims, who had the unenviable task of trying to shut them down last season.
With the Icehawks, Patrosso had 30 goals and 70 points last season, while Naurato had 25 goals and 46 points.
Fort Wayne defeated the Icehawks in the playoff semifinals, rebounding from a 3-1 series deficit, and went on to beat the Flint Generals in five games.
I knew the ownership group here was first class, Patrosso said. I knew the players, how hard they play and how much character they have, and that they want to win. Of course, every player wants to win. This was a really easy choice.
Patrosso and Naurato, both 25, could very well be linemates Saturday against the visiting Rapid City Rush, the CHLs reigning champion, and thats just fine with them.
But the Komets have a lot of players who can fill the first and second lines, including P.C. Drouin, Mathieu Curadeau, Leo Thomas and Sean OConnor.
I love playing with (Patrosso), Naurato said. We have really good chemistry together. Even during the summer, we were skating with each other, and we know all the good things and bad things about each other on the ice.
That chemistry comes from being on the ice together so often, dating back to when they were opponents on youth teams. They became close when they were in training camp with Toledo of the ECHL last season, before they were released and went to Port Huron.
We meshed really well in Port Huron, Patrosso said. Well see what Al has in the plan (for line combinations), but it doesnt matter. I just know where (Naurato) is. I know how good of a shot he has. I know to look for him anytime Im inside the blue line. He does a great job of getting open and yelling, letting me know where he is, and its always fun playing with a guy who can shoot the puck like him.