FORT WAYNE – Komets goaltender Charlie Effinger knows just how difficult it can be to stop Brandon Marino. Last season with Quad City, Marino had seven of the Mallards’ 34 goals against Missouri and Effinger. And the Mallards won five of those eight games.
He’s a good player and brings a lot of energy every day to practice, Effinger said of Marino, who is now his teammate with the Komets. That’s a guy that’s fun to compete against. It (felt like) he had about eight goals on me last year, so I’m pretty familiar with him. But I’m starting to figure out his moves.
And that’s the problem. Theoretically, every player can be figured out – even a player like Marino, the CHL’s MVP last season – and the Komets cannot keep putting the burden of the entire offense on him.
The Komets (3-2-1) have scored only 2.33 goals per game, the third lowest average in the 23-team ECHL. Marino has accounted for five of their 13 goals and six of their 24 assists. He had 41 goals and 90 points in 65 games last season.
He’s off to a great start, said Effinger, who had a 43-save shutout in Fort Wayne’s last game, a 1-0 victory over Gwinnett on Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. But we’re starting to come around (as a team). We’re getting character wins and when you get character wins, guys get going.
Only four other Komets have goals – forwards Eric Giosa (three), Josh Brittain (two), Brett Smith (two) and Chris Auger (one). But Giosa (ankle) and Auger (knee) missed the last two games with injuries.
It’s been a tough time with Auger and Giosa out. They’re both scorers and they play on the first two lines. We knew that we weren’t going to score much (last weekend), Komets coach Al Sims said. The guys went out there and defense is just effort and commitment; it’s not a special talent or anything. The guys just wanted it.
Auger will miss the rest of the season and Giosa is unlikely to play this week – the Komets skate Friday at Toledo, Ohio, for the first time since 1986 – so they signed forward Thomas Beauregard on Monday.
In the Komets’ five-game CHL finals victory last spring, Beauregard had a team-leading four goals and seven points for Wichita. He is the younger brother of former Komets star David-Alexandre Beauregard, a key member of the 2003 championship team in the UHL.
Sims said the Komets need greater production from the third line of Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, Jean-Michel Rizk and Stephon Thorne, which has been together since last season. The third-liners don’t have a point this season, which is surprising for Rizk, who had 20 goals and 31 points in 55 games last season, then seven goals and 14 points in 18 playoff games.
It’s just a confidence thing more than anything. The longer it goes, the less confident you get and the more you struggle and you start squeezing the stick tight, Sims said of the line. Rather than being relaxed around the net, you’re a little uptight. But you can’t say enough about their defense. They cause havoc wherever they go and the other team wants to kill them by the end of the night.