FORT WAYNE – Charlie Effinger was the first goaltender added to the Komets’ roster last summer. But he’s received the least fanfare, probably because Kenny Reiter has been statistically great and earned two call-ups to the American Hockey League and because Marco Cousineau is under an NHL contract to the Anaheim Ducks.
But over the last two games – a 7-2 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday and a 2-1 loss at Loveland, Colo., on Wednesday – Effinger has been just as good as the Komets envisioned when they signed him.
Effinger, 27, stopped 70 of 74 shots in those two games. For the season, he is 8-9-1 with a 3.42 goals-against average, a .897 save percentage and two shutouts.
Those are deceivingly low numbers since the Komets (25-21-2) have struggled on defense. They rank 15th among the ECHL’s 23 teams with 3.25 goals against per game.
By comparison, Reiter, 26, the ECHL’s reigning Goaltender of the Month, is 14-7-1 with a 2.72 GAA, a .916 save percentage and two shutouts. He’s currently up with Bridgeport.
Cousineau, 23, is 3-5-0 with a 3.41 GAA and a .889 save percentage, though he’s missed time with a groin injury.
He’s looked like Charlie did last year to me, coach Al Sims said, when he was playing for Missouri against us in the (CHL) playoffs. You’re not going to get any easy ones off him when he’s playing like that.
The Komets play at Colorado (23-21-3) tonight and Saturday.
While it’s unusual for teams to carry three goalies, Effinger has embraced the situation as much as possible, despite often being in the stands instead of the lineup.
I’ve been working really hard for the last month or whatever it is, Effinger said. And being able to work with Cous and Reits, it’s given me confidence.
The Komets have won three of their last five games, with Effinger solidifying the back end, but he deferred credit to other players, like center Brett Smith and defenseman Tyler Butler, for their leadership of late.
There are a lot of guys on this team, some more qualified than I am, to lead, he said. I try to just work hard and I am what I am. I work hard and I compete, and that’s that.
I try to lead by doing that. But, overall, I just do what I can.
The Komets are four points back of Toledo for second place in the North Division, but Fort Wayne has played one fewer game.
Effinger could help the Komets make up the ground.
I think he’s starting to feel it, Sims said.