The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 04, 2019 1:00 am

Prospect's game grows with Komets

Scorer by reputation, Morrison has worked to dial up his defense

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Brad Morrison scored the overtime winner for the Komets on Saturday night, unleashing a shot from the slot, getting to his own rebound in the corner and then bolting toward the net for a backhand shot and a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones.

But Morrison, 22, is here to score, so coach Ben Boudreau was almost more excited about what had happened two nights before when Morrison sprawled his body onto the ice to block a shot and preserve a lead in the Komets' 3-0 victory over the Wheeling Nailers.

“That's a game-breaker. That's huge,” Boudreau said. “If you get that guy saying, 'Now I'm blocking shots, now I'm managing the puck and now I'm scoring goals,' that's a complete player. That's what he's down here to do on an NHL contract, to find his complete game. He's figuring it out and he's got the guys behind him, which is fun to see.”

Morrison, a prospect of the Los Angeles Kings, played 50 games last season with the Triple A-level American Hockey League's Ontario Reign, and he had 10 goals and 20 points as a rookie.

In 2017-18, he had 27 goals and 75 points in 74 games with the junior-level Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge Hurricanes. He then had a whopping 16 goals and 37 points in 16 playoff games for Lethbridge, which reached the conference finals.

In short, Morrison's track record of scoring is well-documented; it's the defense that's been a work in progress.

“One of the main reasons I'm here is to clean up my defensive game. I'm taking that seriously,” Morrison said. “Doing stuff like blocking shots and getting pucks out, playing hard defensively, it's going benefit my career and the team for as long as I'm here. If I just continue with that, then things will be good.”

Morrison has five goals and 14 points in 13 games for the Komets (13-6-2), who have won five in a row and are tied with Cincinnati for first place in the Central Division.

The Komets begin a five-game road trip at 8 p.m. Friday at Tulsa, Oklahoma, against the Oilers (9-12-2).

Fort Wayne's offense has been impressive all season – it ranks second in the ECHL with 4.24 goals per game – but the defense has improved, giving only four goals over the last three games, and it now ranks 19th with 3.62 goals against per game.

That's been helped by greater defensive production from players such as Morrison, whose father, Doug, played 23 games in the NHL for the Boston Bruins between 1979 and 1985, totaling seven goals and 10 points. His uncle, Mark, played 10 games for the New York Rangers between 1981 and 1984.

Defensive improvement aside, Brad Morrison wants to be mindful of his offense, too, since that's his bread and butter.

“I think I obviously could be producing a little bit more. But it's been a lot of fun here,” Morrison said. “There are a lot of great guys here. Every game has been fun so far. A little bit more producing, scoring goals a little bit more, I could do that. But that's a little bit of adjusting still (to a new league).”

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