Mercifully, Brady Shaw ended the 11-round shootout tonight with a goal, capping a 6-5 victory for the Komets. They swept the preseason series with Wheeling, no thanks to Brandon Hawkins’ five goals over the two games for the Nailers.
Now comes the tough part for coach Ben Boudreau: paring eight guys or so off his Fort Wayne roster.
The decisions in net and on the blue line may not be that difficult; it’s what happens with the forwards that’s going to be tough.
And remember, there should be at least one more player en route this week from the Los Angeles Kings/Ontario Reign.
“The decisions are going to be extremely difficult,” Boudreau said. “You look at a guy like (Alan) Lyszczarczyk. He might not always look like the biggest presence, but he finds a way to get on the scoresheet. He’s created offense every night I’ve seen him and he scored a big shootout goal out there (tonight).
“Connor Sanvido, all he’s done since he’s arrived is score goals. He came out of the University of Lethbridge and is slotted to play in the (Southern Professional Hockey League), but how can you send a guy there if all he does is score for you? And he’s not even on special teams. And guys like Taylor Ross have flashes and (Ian) Mackey and (Gage) Torrel are huge role guys. We’re going to have really tough decisions up front.”
The newcomers I’ve most liked from camp have been: Shawn St-Amant (obviously), Mason Bergh, Max Gottlieb, Sanvido, Marc-Olivier Duquette, Ross and Mathew Boudens. But we don’t exactly have a mountain of evidence.
The compete level has generally been very high with the Komets.
“Everyone’s hungry right now to just get into it,” Shaw said. “You saw it the last two nights; those were some pretty intense preseason games. I don’t know if I really expected that, but it’s good to get your feet wet in those types of games.”
The biggest issue, though, has been playing with a lead. In both preseason games, the Komets looked awesome early, then devolved (they allowed four consecutive goals Friday, and 4 of 7 tonight) before rallying to win in extra time.
Remembering that inconsistency was a problem last season, that’s a bit of red flag. But it’s the preseason and I don’t put a great deal of stock in it.
-- The Komets don’t expect to make any cuts Sunday.
-- It’s sounding more and more as if the Komets will not have a captain to open the season, just alternates. Normally, I don’t like that sort of thing, but this is the season to do that. Someone needs to step up and earn it and that seems to be what Boudreau wants. I would guess players to wear the A’s would be Shawn Szydlowski, Shaw, A.J. Jenks and Jason Binkley.
-- Here’s a line combination to watch for: Szydlowski, Jenks and Boudens. “I love the identity. All three of those guys can score, are aggressive on the forecheck,” Boudreau said. “All three of them can take faceoffs, are communicating, are all leaders and all winners. I really like that line.”
-- Another combination that could be scary to opposing teams: Shaw, Brett McKenzie and St-Amant. “Our top six is probably as good as anybody’s in the league right now,” Boudreau said.
-- We still haven’t seen Brad Ross, who was injured just minutes into the first practice Monday.
-- Video highlights from tonight are above.