Before the Komets’ 64th season began, forward Trevor Cheek hoped he would be able to produce offensively more than he had the past two seasons in the higher-level American Hockey League.
"Obviously, playing on a higher line here than I had been (in the AHL), I want to produce but I need to keep my defensive game strong because I’ll need it when I go back up," Cheek said Oct. 9.
Now, four games into his first ECHL season, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has certainly lived up to the hope that he would be an offensive force for the Komets.
Cheek, a 22-year-old prospect of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, has scored in every game and led the Komets to an undefeated start. He has five goals and seven points and has remained solid defensively – he has a plus-5 rating – and he’s scored a goal on the power play and one short-handed.
"Yeah, it’s definitely been fun," Cheek, who is from Vancouver, Washington, said last weekend. "I’m playing a lot more than I did (with Lake Erie of the AHL), obviously, and we’ve got a great group of guys here with (Alex) Belzile and Peter (Sivak) and (Garrett) Meurs, whomever I’m playing with. They’re all great players. I’m getting a lot of great passes and scoring opportunities. I should have more goals, honestly. It’s been really fun so far."
Cheek totaled nine goals and 23 points over 112 AHL games, manning the third or fourth line with Lake Erie over two seasons.
"I’m a big believer in Cheeker. I’ve seen him two years in (AHL) training camp and last season, I probably watched 10 of their games (in Lake Erie) online," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "He just needs the opportunity to play, plain and simple. He’s just like most guys who are sent down; they have a lot of talent but they need an opportunity. He’s making the most of his."
The Komets are coming off Saturday’s 6-5 victory at Memorial Coliseum over the Indy Fuel, thanks to Sivak’s overtime-forcing goal in the final minute and Belzile’s goal in the 3-on-3 overtime.
The Komets, who next play at Indianapolis (2-1-1) on Friday, have a Midwest Division-leading eight points.
"He’s getting a lot of confidence and I think it’ll be the same for Cheek when he gets called up (to Colorado’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio), which I’m sure is going to happen throughout the season," Graham said. "I think he’s going to be a different player when he gets up there, and that’s the whole point of this affiliation."
Some players loathe getting sent down, but Cheek has embraced it.
"It’s a great league," he said of the ECHL. "I hate it when guys say it’s not a great league. I know it is. There are a lot of great players in it. I’m just trying to come down here and do my best and help the team as much as I can. It’s great group of guys, so it’s been nice so far, and it’s obviously nice to be playing more than I had been the last two years."
Note: Monday, defenseman Gabriel Beaupre was sent down from San Antonio to the Komets. He hadn’t played in the AHL yet this season. In 11 games last season with the Komets, he had two goals and seven points.