FORT WAYNE – Joe Hartman spent the last four seasons playing college hockey for Miami of Ohio, and he wasn’t naïve enough to think that he was going to be ready for professional hockey on Day 1.
It’s been a process.
It was just a lot of things I needed to learn, said Hartman, who has played 31 games for the Komets. It’s a different style of game, and I’ve been trying to adjust to that. And it’s a lot more games (that you play), so there have been a lot of things combined that I’ve been trying to improve on.
The Komets (13-11-7) are 2-0-2 in their past four games heading into tonight’s game at Toledo against the Walleye (10-17-3).
Hartman, 24, who is 6-foot-3, 204 pounds, has one goal, three points, 16 penalty minutes and a minus-6 rating this season.
His play has solidified, though, as has that of the entire defensive corps. The Komets have given up 10 goals over the last four games, bringing their defensive average for the season down to 3.26 goals against, 18th among the ECHL’s 22 teams.
Toledo has the worst defense with 3.87 goals against per game.
The defensive pairs have found each other and gotten a good rhythm. I like the way things are going on the defensive end, said Hartman, who plays alongside William Lacasse (2 assists, plus-1 rating, 20 games).
I had a couple changes early in the season (with my defensive partners), but once I found Lacasse I’ve gotten comfortable, and we’ve been rolling.
Hartman, who hails from St. Cloud, Minn., was an all-star in juniors with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League in 2009. He knows how to adjust quickly, too; when he was at Miami, he was the RedHawks’ rookie of the year and on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s All-Rookie Team.
As a senior, last season, he had five assists and 24 penalty minutes in 36 games.
I think I have improved, Hartman said. I think I’ve been adjusting to the pro style of game, though it took a little bit. I like to focus on getting better every day and pick up little lessons, especially in losses.
Notes: The Komets are unsure if goaltender Andrey Makarov, who experienced concussion-like symptoms after getting crashed into in the 3-2 overtime loss to Kalamazoo on Wednesday, will be in the lineup tonight. He is considered day-to-day, coach Gary Graham said. General manager David Franke said it could be weeks before the Komets receive future considerations from Orlando and Utah for recent trades. The Solar Bears received forward Mickey Lang from the Komets, while the Grizzlies got goalie Cody Reichard.