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More games might boost Boucher

Goaltender Nick Boucher wants to play in more games this season.

But he understands he has to earn that privilege, even if he has helped the Komets to three championships in his four seasons with the team.

"I'm not going to play more if I don't do my job in the pipes," Boucher said. "But the best year I had in Fort Wayne was (2008-09), when Sebastien Laplante got hurt and I didn't really have backup for awhile. That was the season I felt like I played the best and had the best numbers."

Boucher went 32-14-7 in 54 games that season, with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.

Over his other three seasons here, Boucher has averaged 37 games played with a 74-31-11 record.

Last year, while splitting time with Kevin Reiter, he was 18-15-6 with a 2.96 GAA and a .905 save percentage in 42 games during the Komets' first season in the CHL. Having two solid goalies was a luxury for coach Al Sims, but sometimes it played against Boucher because he likes to shake off a bad game by getting right back out there.

"Any position for any athlete, you have a rough night, you expect to go back in," he said, "and if you are doing well, you will go back in because you are rolling. Confidence breeds confidence."

The Komets have 29 players in training camp vying for about 20 spots, but the only other goaltender is Kevin Beech, who split time last season between Texas and Wichita, going 11-7-2.

Goaltending wasn't perceived as the Komets' main problem last season – they went 31-27-8, after being in last place until February – but Boucher believes he can improve.

A little rest over the summer should help.

Because he spent the summer of 2010 playing in Australia, Boucher went about 19 months without a break before the Komets were eliminated by Rapid City in the Turner Conference Semifinals last spring.

"I took the opportunity to go down to Australia and the pro hockey season over here is hard enough as is," Boucher, 30, said. "When you don't give your body a chance to rest and recover from the season, you start feeling it. There were definitely times where there were aches and pains and bruises. It, at times, takes a toll. Having the opportunity to relax and golf and unwind from a year that didn't meet the expectations of the players, fans or the organization, it makes (me) come back extra motivated."

General manager David Franke said the Komets cannot succeed without terrific goaltending. Boucher, who has helped the Komets back from 3-1 playoff deficits twice, including in the 2008 IHL finals, knows that's the case.

"By this point, they kind of expect me to know what they're expecting out of me," he said.

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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