Not many natives of Fort Wayne have played for the Komets in their 68 seasons of existence. But some of the ones who have, such as Colin Chin and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, have made huge impacts.
The Komets hope Blake Siebenaler, who signed today with his hometown team, can have that kind of success and help sharpen up the defensive corps that was so spotty last season.
The Komets also re-signed defenseman Kyle Haas, goalie Stefanos Lekkas and forward Tommy Beaudoin. They had previously signed A.J. Jenks, Shawn Szydlowski and Anthony Petruzzelli.
Siebenaler, 24, spent last season with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers, totaling nine goals and 26 points in 50 games. His season was cut short because of a freak injury in which he was chasing the puck into the corner and a skate blade lacerated his leg. He was a free agent because he played last season on an American Hockey League contract; the Nailers were unable to protect his rights.
Siebenaler was the first product of the Fort Wayne youth hockey system to get drafted by an NHL team. The former Carroll player was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third round in 2014, though he hasn’t ascended to the NHL level.
After completing his junior career with the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs in 2016 –--he had seven goals and 29 points in 65 games his final season -- he joined the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters and remained with them until he was traded by the Blue Jackets to the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019.
Siebenaler skated 83 AHL games with Cleveland, and totaled seven goals and 14 points. After joining the Penguins’ organization, he played only one AHL game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and has spent the rest of the time with their ECHL affiliate, Wheeling, totaling nine goals and 28 points in 57 games with an even plus/minus rating.
Siebenaler, 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, has yet to play more than 50 games in a professional season. He had a shoulder injury that limited him to 23 games in 2017-18, and another leg cut from a skate blade ended his 2018-19 season after 25 games.
The Komets’ defense was inconsistent last season, ranking 20th with 3.55 goals against per game, and Siebenaler could help with that while also manning the penalty-kill and power-play units.
There have been several hometown players to skate for the Komets including Chin, who captained the Komets to the International Hockey League’s 1993 Turner Cup, and Schrock, who won a Turner Cup in 2010, a Central Hockey League President’s Cup in 2012 and later captained the team.
Brandon Warner, another Fort Wayne native, won Cups with the Komets in 2008 and 2010. And Gary Graham has coached the Komets.
“Blake grew up watching the Komets as a fan and young player in the Fort Wayne youth hockey program,” general manager David Franke said. “He is a steady defenseman with some offensive punch. Blake follows in the footprints of other Komet greats from Fort Wayne such as Ron Ullyot, Colin Chin and Kaleigh Schrock. I know he is very excited to play on Coliseum ice in the Komets orange and black.”
Haas, 26, had two goals, nine points and 164 penalty minutes in 45 games last season.
“Kyle Haas plays the game in true Komet fashion,” Franke said. “His physical style made him a fan favorite in his rookie season. He worked on his game all year and was rewarded as the Komets’ Most Improved Player (winner). It’s great to have him back on the team for 2020-21.”
Lekkas, 24, stopped 32 of 34 shots in his lone appearance after a career at the University of Vermont.
“Stefanos was only here a short time, but he made a great impression on all of us and with our fans. His play in our final game was stellar and earned him this contract for '20-21,” Franke said.
Beaudoin, 21, is a rookie who had 34 goals and 59 points last season in juniors for Terrebonne of the QJAAAHL, a Junior A league in Quebec.