The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, October 27, 2021 1:00 am

Komets' new captain starts strong

Boudens scores twice in season-opening comeback

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Asked to describe his leadership style, new Komets captain Matthew Boudens was succinct in saying, “I just want to lead by example and kind of leave it all out there. I think that's the way I play.”

His first night with the 'C' on his sweater – the Komets' 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Wheeling Nailers on Saturday at Memorial Coliseum – was all the proof that was needed.

Less than 5 minutes into the Komets' 70th season, Boudens was involved in a bit of a fracas with Tyler Drevitch, who has become a villainous figure at the Coliseum in the past nine months, after Boudens was tripped up crashing the Wheeling net. Boudens went on to score twice – off a breakaway rush and by redirecting a Will Graber shot – assisted on a Stephen Harper goal and continued to antagonize the Nailers.

For a guy who finished last season with four goals, 15 points and 44 penalty minutes in 37 regular-season games, then added three goals, eight points and 42 penalty minutes in 13 playoff games as Fort Wayne captured the Kelly Cup, it was a strong start to Boudens' tenure as the Komets' 37th captain.

“It means a lot (to be captain of) a storied franchise like Fort Wayne. It's not something you take lightly, I'm pretty honored,” said Boudens, 28, who is in his third professional season – all with Fort Wayne, though he's been called up to Chicago of the American Hockey League for 12 games along the way.

Last season's captain, A.J. Jenks, retired over the summer and Boudens was chosen by coach Ben Boudreau, with input from people such as general manager David Franke and assistant coach Olivier Legault, though players such as Anthony Petruzzelli, Zach Tolkinen and Connor Jones were considered.

“Obviously, playing under Jenksy, he was a pretty good model for leadership,” said Boudens, whose alternates were Petruzzelli and Marcus McIvor on Saturday. “We had an older group last year and you learn from those guys. We've got a good leadership crew here, regardless of whether there are letters on their jerseys or not, and I think that's huge for the winning culture.”

“It's an honor to be wearing that letter and we've got lots of leaders in that room that we're going to rely on throughout this season, so I'm obviously happy about being able to wear the 'C' for Fort Wayne and it's pretty exciting.”

Boudens was a captain in juniors for the Drummondville Voltigeurs and an alternate at the University of New Brunswick, where he won Canadian national championships. Since the Komets recruited him in 2019, comparisons were made to other great Komets leaders, such as Colin Chaulk, and a captaincy seemed inevitable.

“I believe that Boudens has always been a natural leader and he comes out, and it's not anything that he tries to do, it's just natural to him, and it's something he's done for the last two years here,” said Boudreau, whose Komets (1-0-0) face the Kalamazoo Wings (1-0-0) Saturday at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Boudens may not accrue a ton of points – he's totaled 16 goals and 38 points in 81 regular-season games – but he's never been afraid to do the little things to help the Komets. That's included fighting 10 times, including twice last season.

“I thought the way Boudens played last year during the playoffs when everything was on the line, he rose to the top and made a difference,” Boudreau said. “You need people like that to be difference makers in big games.”

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