FORT WAYNE – The Komets have a knack for finding young players from the junior or college ranks, bringing them in just before the playoffs and getting major contributions from them.
Justin Hodgman was the playoff MVP en route to the 2008 IHL championship. Jamie Milam got his start with the Komets in 2006 – when he was still a forward. Last years discovery was Tom Mele.
So its not surprising that defenseman Daniel Maggio has been given such responsibility in the playoffs, after he finished his junior career with the Oshawa Generals.
Maggio, 21, has played in 12 of the Komets 15 playoff games. He has one goal and three points, has seen plenty of time on special teams and has helped the Komets get within two victories of taking the CHLs Presidents Cup.
The Komets lead the Thunder 2-0 in the best-of-seven finals, with Game 3 at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday.
Its been a great experience, Maggio said. I just want to do my best and help the team win.
Maggio scored his first professional goal in Sundays 6-3 victory at Intrust Bank Arena.
After Colin Chaulk won a faceoff back to him cleanly, he blasted a slap shot from the blue line past Wichita Thunder goaltender Adam Russo, putting the Komets up 2-1.
An unbelievable shot, Komets coach Al Sims said. That thing was a rocket. It hit the net and came out like a bullet. The kid, we knew he had a good shot, but that was the first time hes really let one go. He blew it right by Russo. I dont know if he saw it.
Its a tremendous lift for the kid. Hes playing great hockey defensively and for him to pitch in that way and get a goal, I know it meant a lot to him.
Maggio has been so good that its forced Sims to keep David Starenky in the stands the last two games. But Maggios willingness to hit has meant Fort Wayne hasnt had a big drop-off in physical play.
Im a big guy and like to finish every hit, said Maggio, who is 6-foot-3, 202 pounds. And I think Ive got a pretty good shot. I just want to help the team win, and thats why I came here.
Maggio was a sixth-round pick of the New York Rangers in the 2009 NHL draft. He had seven goals, 19 points and 117 penalty minutes in 66 games this season with Oshawa.
He knows not many players get to win championships, certainly not in their first seasons, so he wants to help make sure the Komets dont let up against the regular-season champion Thunder.
Its a great start. We came here just wanting to get one (victory) and getting two was even better. Now weve got to keep the same pace weve got going and bring it back home, said Maggio, a native of Windsor, Ontario.
You cant take it for granted. Youve got a great team over there. Weve got to keep our emotions level now.
Note: Former Komets star Sean Venedam, who had his right leg amputated below the knee last summer, made the Canadian Standing Amputee National team and will compete in the World Championships in Finland, starting today. Venedam had the amputation as the result of an injury suffered on the ice in 2008 with Bakersfield of the ECHL. The Laredo Bucks will not operate during the 2012-13 season, and the players will be declared unrestricted free agents, the Central Hockey League said today. The teams owners will maintain their license agreement in the league, the CHL said in a statement.