FORT WAYNE – Eric Giosa isnt a big guy – hes 5-foot-11, 182 pounds – but there are big expectations on the 28-year-old center.
Giosa is one of the key offseason acquisitions for the Komets, who open training camp Saturday, and will be relied upon to score.
Giosa has scored plenty in the past. He had 54 goals and 118 points in 118 games the last two seasons with Quad City.
I dont think I feel pressure, Giosa said. With this team, the forwards we have in particular, a lot of guys can put points on the board. Its more about getting wins and championships. Thats what its all about here, and Im looking forward to being a part of it.
The Komets, who defeated Giosas Mallards seven out of nine times in the regular season, moved to the ECHL after capturing last seasons CHL title.
The Komets made several moves to adjust to the younger, faster, NHL-affiliated league, including signing Giosa and his frequent linemate, Brandon Marino, last seasons CHL MVP.
Its going to be a lot of fun for Giosa and Marino, forward Stephon Thorne said. Theyll have more room and bigger guys protecting them. And theyll be able to free-wheel with their skill. Its going to be unreal to watch.
Marino is one of seven players starting off at the higher-level American Hockey League – he is in Norfolk, Va. – and for now the offense will be paced by centers Giosa, Colin Chaulk, Brett Smith and Jean-Philipp Chabot.
If everyone expected to be in Fort Wayne winds up here, there will be a glut of centers, and Giosa might be forced into a role on the wing.
Most guys will tell you, centermen can play wherever, said Giosa, 28, of Northville, Mich. Am I more comfortable at center? Absolutely. Im a natural center. But Ive played wing.
Smitty and I have talked about it, and hes played wing, as well. I dont know if more is being made of it than needs to be, but Im not worried about it.
Over the last two seasons, Fort Wayne and Quad City were equivalently successful in the regular season; the Komets were 71-46-15 and the Mallards were 71-58-3.
But the Komets won four postseason series and a Cup, while the Mallards lost their only playoff series in the CHL in 2011.
A change of scenery doesnt guarantee anything, said Giosa, who has four games of ECHL experience with Reading in 2008-09.
You just play hard and want everyone on the same page, and things will take care of themselves, Giosa said. As long as youre winning, everything is good. I definitely think we have a group of guys that will be competitive and tough to play against night in, night out.
Notes: Goaltender Gerry Festa, who was 6-4-3 with a 2.98 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage last season, has been practicing with the Komets informally and should be on the ice Saturday. The Komets presumed goalies, Charlie Effinger and Kenny Reiter, are in AHL camps with Grand Rapids (Mich.) and Bridgeport (Conn.). The ECHL determined 16 teams, eight from each conference, will qualify for the playoffs. All series will be best-of-seven.