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Photos by The Journal Gazette
The Komets' P.C. Drouin, left, and Brandon Warner in January 2009.

Lovell to replace Warner with K's

Jamie Lovell of Port Huron in 2010.

Defenseman Brandon Warner, a Huntertown native who helped the Komets to three championships in four seasons, retired Tuesday.

He will soon be replaced in the lineup by Jamie Lovell, a longtime rival of the Komets, who had seven goals and 20 points in 64 games last season with Bloomington and Evansville.

"Jamie is a veteran defenseman," Komets general manager David Franke said. "He'll bring some stability to our young defensemen.

"We were kind of hoping Brandon Warner would fill that void, but with him retiring, we will lean heavily on Lovell, Jamie Milam and Frankie DeAngelis to help our young defensemen out, and he'll be good on the power play, too."

Warner, 28, totaled 22 goals and 73 points in 191 regular-season games with Fort Wayne.

In the playoffs, he had one goal and eight points in 20 games, but the injury-plagued Warner was left off the playoff roster last season, when the Komets reached the Turner Conference semifinals in their first CHL season.

He was given an opportunity to make this season's team, and seemed to have done so before being placed on injured reserve with a hip injury before Saturday's season opener, a 5-0 loss to Evansville.

Warner, who couldn't be reached for comment, has accepted a position with Steel Dynamics.

"Brandon won three championships with us," Franke said. "He was a big part of those teams. He was a local guy who made good.

"I was looking forward to his veteran leadership back there, but this job offer was for the next phase of his life. And to turn it down might not have been smart for his future."

Because Lovell's immigration work papers and contract are being completed, he won't be available to play this Saturday against the IceMen at the Coliseum.

Defenseman David Starenky (shoulder) remains on IR, so the Komets will play with five defensemen, Franke said, though Chris Auger could drop back from forward periodically.

Lovell, 28, will probably best be remembered by the Komets' fans for his role with the Port Huron Icehawks from 2007 to 2010 in the IHL. The Komets defeated the Icehawks in the 2008 finals and the 2010 semifinals, rallying from 3-1 deficits both times.

Before Saturday's game, the Komets will retire No. 2 in honor of longtime defenseman and former captain Guy Dupuis.

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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