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McIlrath: K's king of social media

Todd McIlrath wants just two things: To make the Komets' roster and for his Twitter catchphrase #gokometsgo to get big.

Training camp for the Komets' 60th season opened Monday, with 29 players vying for about 20 spots at Memorial Coliseum.

Of all the players who have donned the orange and black through the years, McIlrath is the first to come to town having embraced Twitter as a social network.

"That's the world we live in today. There's technology. The second anybody does anything, everybody knows," said McIlrath, a 25-year-old forward, who can be found at www.twitter.com/toddmcilrath.

He has been involved with social media since he played for Bowling Green from 2006 to 2009, tallying 10 goals and 41 points in 104 games. It was in 2009, thanks to Kanye West's famous outburst toward Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, that McIlrath decided for the first time to check out what people were writing on Twitter.

"I've been united with 100 or so (Komets fans) through Twitter and they've been really supportive," McIlrath said. "It's been fun for both sides of it. We've been going back and forth, and it's helped me get acclimated here. I've known some names, and I've been putting some faces with those names. It's been cool to meet people in person and kind of connect the dots."

Since signing with the Komets on June 29, @toddmcilrath, who has 121 followers, has written several hockey-related messages, such as:

  • "Statistically, I am average by any standard. Height, weight, speed, skill etc... But, measure my heart and you will understand."
  • "Perfection is not attainable. But, if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."
  • "It's hard to drive past the Coliseum without feeling blessed for the opportunity that lies in front of me."
McIlrath, 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, who hails from Livonia, Mich., spent the last two seasons in the Single-A level All-American Hockey League, totaling 33 goals and 66 points in only 28 games with Battle Creek and Troy.

His cyberspace friends have given him plenty of advice on making the Komets' roster, which is stocked with talent at forward.

"It sounds like exactly what I was expecting when I came in here," he said. "They've been telling me to work hard and that it's a blue-collar hockey team, and that it's never been anything but that when it's been successful. 'Bring work to the ice every day.' It seems like we'll get along fine.

"I try to bring energy. I try to motivate. I try to inspire my teammates with my own work ethic. I will do anything I can to help the team."

The Komets will skate two exhibition games in which players like McIlrath must prove themselves -- Friday at Dayton and Sunday at the Coliseum against the Gems -- and the regular season opens Oct. 22 against the Evansville IceMen.

"It's kind of been my whole mantra since I learned I was coming here -- give everything I have for every second that I'm here," McIlrath said. "Then, hope for the best."

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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