FORT WAYNE – From the first day of training camp, Komets coach Gary Graham has raved about center Mickey Lang’s speed.
That speed was on display in the Komets’ first game of the regular season – a 4-3 loss to Toledo in an overtime shootout Saturday night – but it wasn’t the most impressive facet of Lang’s performance.
On the Komets’ third goal, which came with 4 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the third period, defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin fired a shot from the blue line and Lang redirected it in mid-air. It ricocheted off goaltender Mac Carruth and then Lang hit it again in mid-air to force overtime and get the Komets a point.
It hit off my stick originally, then hit off his chest, Lang said. I saw it in the air and tried to get it. I didn’t get much wood on it but I got a little piece of it and it trickled in.
So, it seems, his speed is almost matched by his hand-eye coordination.
That’s why he’s here, Graham said, when asked about Lang’s debut, which included two goals in regulation and the Komets’ only tally in the shootout.
He’s a guy who’s hungry and wants to prove himself at this level. That guy’s got a great motor and a great work ethic and will fit in good here.
Lang, 27, is only 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, but his speed has made up for any size disadvantage.
Last season, he had 41 goals and 83 points in 64 games for Quad City in the CHL, and he got called up to Rockford of the American Hockey League for a game.
A native of Reno, Nev., he’s in only his third season after playing at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y.
He had two goals in two preseason games with the Komets and has been reunited on a line with Brandon Marino, the Komets’ MVP last season, with whom he played in the Quad Cities in 2011-12.
Lang believes that will put him ahead of the curve when it comes to adjusting to a new league, the ECHL.
It’s was my first regular season game in this league, but I have to just play my game, Lang said. It’s an easy adjustment and I’m comfortable playing with someone I have been with before in the past in Brandon Marino. And Scott Fleming has fit right in (with us), so it’s been easy so far.
Lang knows his speed is his biggest asset, especially since the ECHL is a faster league than the CHL, and he’s a part of Graham’s philosophy of improving upon the team’s speed from last season, when it missed the playoffs.
Speed is a big part of the game and I just need to keep moving my feet and use that speed to create scoring chances. That’s what we did (Saturday). We just couldn’t pull of the win, said Lang, adding that he was grateful to get off to a quick start individually.
It’s obviously nice individually (to score twice) but you want to win the game. It’s more important to win as a team. Getting off to a good start, though, it’s nice because you don’t get behind the 8-ball and start losing confidence.