The part of Patrick Knowlton’s résumé that immediately jumps off the page is that he played for the Rapid City Rush last season.
But only two of his 26 games were against the Komets – none in the grueling Turner Conference semifinals series between the teams – so not many of his new teammates knew or remembered him before Saturday, when training camp opened at Memorial Coliseum.
So here’s what kind of player Knowlton, a 26-year-old forward is: I would say I’m a playmaker who can score. I’m usually more of a pass-first kind of guy, but I’ve been working to shoot more lately. I’m just excited to get out on the ice and do either one of those things.
The Komets, who are entering their first season in the ECHL, are looking for those types of players after losing playoff MVP Mike Vaskivuo, regular-season top scorer Bobby Chaumont and longtime Komet Leo Thomas in the offseason.
There are many playmakers vying for spots on the team, but not many of them have experience in the ECHL, a 23-team league with strong ties to the NHL. Knowlton, 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, and from Colorado Springs, Colo., has played 15 games in the ECHL with Gwinnett and Colorado since his collegiate career at Sacred Heart, where he was the captain in 2010-11.
In the ECHL, he has one goal and three points. With the Rush, he had three goals and 10 points, though he was scoreless against Fort Wayne, which won the CHL championship last season.
In the ECHL, it’s faster. The guys are a little younger. It’s more of a speed game, some more finesse, Knowlton said. In the CHL, you have some older guys who have been around. They are really good players. I think it’s a little slower, but the level of play is not any different. It’s good in both leagues, very comparable, just different.
The Komets have 26 players in camp, not including the six who are in American Hockey League camps – Brandon Marino, Jean-Michel Rizk, Brent Henley, Daniel Maggio, Charlie Effinger and Kenny Reiter, who hasn’t been signed by Fort Wayne but is expected to be sent here by Bridgeport.
Forward Chris Auger came back from Norfolk on Monday.
An undisclosed injury ended his tryout there, and he declined to talk about what happened with the Admirals.
I haven’t been around, but from what I understand there are a bunch of ambitious kids trying to push the pace and make good impressions here, said Auger, who had 28 goals and 59 points in 57 games last season with the Komets. It’s ECHL, though, and you will see turnover after turnover, and that’s the biggest change.
The Komets will have exhibition games Saturday and Sunday at the Coliseum against the Evansville IceMen, then open the regular season Oct. 12 against the visiting Kalamazoo Wings.
The preseason games will be essential for players like Knowlton to show their abilities to influence games.
I had a bad taste in my mouth after leaving Rapid, said Knowlton, who was waived a month before the playoffs, and it’s great to go to a first-class organization like this and see how things are run right away. It’s a great opportunity for me to be here.
Note: At Saturday’s game, the rooftop lounge at the Coliseum will be closed because of a private event.