FORT WAYNE – Komets rookie defenseman Daniel Maggio is 21. He’s got plenty of time to climb the ladder in professional hockey and make it to the NHL, where some of his teammates believe he has the skills to go.
Tonight and Wednesday could be a significant opportunity as Maggio chases that dream.
The Windsor, Ontario, native is the lone Fort Wayne representative in the ECHL All-Star Game at Loveland, Colo. The skills competition is tonight – Maggio will compete for the hardest and most-accurate shot – and the game is Wednesday night.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Maggio said. “It’s my first All-Star Game. I’ve just been thinking about the (Komets game) … but as this gets closer, I’m getting more excited and it’s exciting for myself.”
The ECHL’s stars will take on the host Colorado Eagles in the All-Star Game. You can watch that and the skills competition live on the Internet at www.americaone.com, and the game will be replayed on the NHL Network at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The All-Star Game would better be termed an All-Prospects Game because the ECHL prioritized putting its young stars on display for the NHL scouts. For instance, the Komets’ Brandon Marino, 26, isn’t on the squad, even though he’s second among active ECHL players with 47 points this season.
“This will be great to showcase my skills and it’s a different All-Star Game because we’re playing against the Colorado team,” Maggio said. “I think it will be more competitive than what you see on TV with all-star games. There might be a little bit of hitting and it could be more like a normal game.”
Maggio has five goals, 16 points and a plus-4 rating in 39 games. He plays on special teams and he has doled out plenty of hits and fought. He leads the ECHL with 36 minor penalties and is tops among all rookies with 134 penalty minutes.
He joined the Komets just before the playoffs last season, scoring two goals and five points in 15 games en route to the CHL title.
“He’s a great young player,” Komets center Brett Smith said. “He’s smart. He’s headsy. He plays with an edge. He was obviously a key part of our championship team last year and it was great to see him come back. He’s a kid who’s only going to get better with experience.”
Maggio, 6-foot-3, 202 pounds, has been called up to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League for one game this season.
“When I got up there, they told me, ‘Be defensively sound and your offense will come. Pick your spots,’ ” said Maggio, a sixth-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2009. “I played physical, hard in the corners. Winning your 50-50 (battles) is what it comes down to and that’s what I focused on. Defense first and the points will come.”
Notes: Former NHL player Luca Caputi, who had six goals and 14 points in 15 games with the Komets, was called up by Norfolk of the AHL. … The Komets released Brayden Metz. He had one goal and two points in seven games.