When the minutes were winding down in Wednesday’s game, center Leo Thomas was on the bench telling his teammates he was going to score.
And he did, putting in the game-winner off a rebound as the Komets defeated the Dayton Gems 4-2 and snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Talking confidently and backing up his words are just two of the things Thomas has been striving to do since being made an alternate captain Dec. 14 as part of an attempted change of culture within the Komets’ last-place locker room.
I’m happy with it, said Thomas, in his third season with the Komets. I’m glad that they picked me and I’m trying to do my best at it.
The Komets stripped defenseman Guy Dupuis of his captaincy and left wing P.C. Drouin of his alternate captaincy.
Forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock remained an alternate captain, and there is no captain at this time.
The Komets are 1-2-0 since the shakeup, 6-15-1 in their first Central Hockey League season, after winning the last three championships of the IHL.
Yeah, Leo’s trying to help as much as he can with positive talk on the ice with his teammates, Komets coach Al Sims said.
In the third period (Wednesday), he said he was going to get (a goal). He’s been leading as best as he can. And on the ice, his effort has picked up a bit since he got the A.
Thomas, 29, has been an alternate captain once before, when he skated with the Bloomington PrairieThunder from 2007 to 2008, and he had been hoping for an increased leadership role with the Komets for a couple of years.
But he didn’t want it to come at the cost of players who sit just a few feet from him.
It’s unfortunate it came to that, said Thomas, who leads the team in goals (eight) and is tied for the points lead (16) with defenseman Frankie DeAngelis.
I know I’ve wanted the A for awhile, but I’ve got it now and it’s my job to keep it.
The Komets play at Dayton (13-10-1) tonight – it’s their third straight game against the Gems – and play host to them at Memorial Coliseum on Monday. Fort Wayne is 1-4-0 against Dayton.
Thomas wants the Komets to get a roll, and if he needs to pull players aside to talk X’s and O’s or about the mental part of hockey, he’ll do so.
I’m maybe just talking to the guys a little bit more. If I see a guy down, I’ll just go one-on-one with him and try to get him going, Thomas said.
I don’t have to change too much. P.C. and Guy are still leaders on this team. Yeah, I’ve got the letter, but little things around the room all changed.