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  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Addison Agen, runner-up on NBC’s “The Voice,” waves at fans after singing the national anthem before the start of the Komets game at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.

Monday, January 01, 2018 1:00 am

Shea winning rave reviews from K's coach

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Bobby Shea has been with the Komets for two seasons. But injuries and call-ups to the American Hockey Leagues have limited him to only 54 games in the Fort Wayne lineup, meaning fans haven't necessarily gotten a chance to see what he's all about.

On Friday night when the Komets defeated the Wheeling Nailers 5-2, they might have gotten a good taste of it.

Not only did Shea dole out big hits and garner a plus-3 rating, he showed his agitating skills by trying to trying to make Garrett Meurs flinch with a couple of pretend punches that got the crowd buzzing, and then he netted the winning goal with a blistering shot from 35 feet out.

“It felt good to get a game-winner,” said Shea, who had scored only two goals heading into Sunday's game at Memorial Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye. “It was a great play. Our forwards were driving the net and if (Gabriel Desjardins) doesn't make the play up top, I don't get the puck to shoot it in. He made the play; I was just there to capitalize on it.”

Before he signed with the Komets, Shea had a productive 2015-16 season with the South Carolina Stingrays, totaling five goals, 29 points and 180 penalty minutes in 64 games, then adding one goal, eight points and 20 penalty minutes in 19 playoff games.

His totals with the Komets haven't exactly met those expectations – five goals, 23 points and 101 penalty minutes – but last season he never had time to jell in Fort Wayne.

“For me, the first 10 games this season didn't go well,” Shea said. “Some things just didn't feel normal. But then it got back to me and I feel great now and I'm just happy that we're winning.”

The Komets had won 14 of 17 games heading into Sunday. Even though his scoring still wasn't where he would have liked it to be, Shea had been earning rave reviews for what he had been doing in his own zone.

“He's been playing some great hockey over the last month and a half,” coach Gary Graham said. “I told him, 'Sometimes this is what it's like as a defenseman. You're suddenly going to get a wave of pluses or a wave of minuses that aren't fair to you. Sometimes the points come easier than other times. It's a process throughout the season.'

“For me, right now he's playing great defensive hockey. And when you play great defensive hockey, your confidence offensively comes from that, and I think that's what he's doing.”

The Komets were coming off Saturday's 5-0 victory over the Quad City Mallards in Moline, Illinois. Shea, 27, had an assist to give him seven points and 44 penalty minutes in 28 games this season.

“Obviously, the points aren't exactly where I want them,” he said. “But these past 10 or 15 games, I've felt really good out there, and I think it's pretty noticeable. It's not necessarily been on the stat sheets lately, but I'm hoping to change that. I'm just going to keep moving my feet, keep getting the puck to the forwards, and it's going to result in offense.”

Truth be told, the Komets don't need Shea to carry the offensive load from the blue line, not while they also have Jason Binkley, Ryan Culkin and Cody Sol, but they feel Shea's numbers will eventually come regardless.

For now, they're content with him doing what he had been – a goal, two points and a plus-6 rating in his last four games, playing alongside Curtis Leonard.

“He's a really good defenseman and it's a lot easier to play the game with him,” Shea said. “He makes it easy for me. He complements me really well and I complement him well.”