FORT WAYNE – Forward Chris Auger was an unknown commodity during last year’s training camp.
The Komets weren’t even sure he would make the team.
Of course, he did and wowed almost the entire way, scoring 28 goals and 59 points in 57 regular-season games.
He added 10 goals and 22 points in 18 playoff games as the Komets’ won the CHL President’s Cup.
The Komets have come to rely on Auger, a 24-year-old from Bellville, Ontario, but will he be able to repeat his production of last season?
I had my personal goals from last year that I had written down. And I have my goals for this year. But I always keep those to myself, Auger said.
When I meet with (coach Al Sims), we might discuss those, but it’s something I’d rather not throw out there and be held up to a standard, even though I will hold myself up to it. I do have big ambitions for this year, personally and for the team.
The Komets are entering their first season in the ECHL. They play exhibition games Saturday and Sunday against the visiting Evansville IceMen, then open the regular season Oct. 12 against the Kalamazoo Wings at Memorial Coliseum.
To aid in their move to the NHL-affiliated ECHL, and make up for the loss of playoff MVP Mike Vaskivuo, leading scorer Bobby Chaumont and Leo Thomas, the Komets added a lot of known playmakers, namely, CHL MVP Brandon Marino, Eric Giosa and Jean-Philipp Chabot.
But nothing is guaranteed when it comes to success in the 23-team ECHL.
On paper, (the roster) looks great, Auger said. But the question is: What will it translate to in the games and on the ice? Will we mesh well together? Will we click well together? Last year, you had these great combinations, like you knew (Brett Smith) and (Chaumont) would always play well together. And myself and (Colin Chaulk) did, too.
There are 30 players in camp, not including the three players trying out for teams in the higher-level American Hockey League: Brent Henley, Charlie Effinger and Kenny Reiter, who isn’t under contract with Fort Wayne but is expected to be assigned here.
The Komets will keep only about 20 for the regular season.
You just hope that as camp goes on and you get closer to the season that you find those combinations that will allow everyone to explore their full potential because, said Auger, who is in his third professional season. On paper, though, there’s a lot of opportunity to put pucks in the net right now.
Note: The AHL’s Norfolk Admirals released forwards Marino and Jean-Michel Rizk, and they will immediately return to the Komets. The Admirals also assigned defenseman Ryan Hegarty to Fort Wayne. He played the last four seasons for the University of Maine.