Just when it seemed the Komets had gotten their lineup somewhat in order, they lost their top two scorers. The American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals called up forwards Mike Embach and Shawn Szydlowski on Tuesday.
Embach led the Komets in scoring with 55 points, including 20 goals, in 52 games. Szydlowski, his linemate, had a team-leading 25 goals and 51 points in 42 games.
"We don’t know the timeline on these guys, but it will be a good opportunity for them to play because Norfolk has only nine forwards right now," Komets coach Gary Graham said.
The moves came the same day the Komets officially signed forward Aaron Clarke, who played on a line with Embach and Szydlowski in the playoffs last season and came out of retirement to rejoin the team.
"(How much Clarke plays) is going to all be based on the way he feels," Graham said. "The way I play guys off injuries and long layoffs and stuff, it’s about what they’re comfortable with doing and how they’re feeling. We started skating him (Tuesday), and tomorrow we’ll build him up a little bit more."
The Komets (36-12-6), who are on a 5-0-3 run, are tied with Reading for the Eastern Conference lead. They begin a home-and-home series with the Kalamazoo Wings (25-23-5) on Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
"I would expect him to be in the lineup come Friday, I will say that, but how much he plays in the game we’ll figure out later," Graham said.
Szydlowski, 24, has already played five AHL games for Lake Erie and Binghamton this season, though he’s gone scoreless. Embach was in training camp last fall with Chicago of the AHL, but he hasn’t played in an AHL regular-season game since 2012-13, when he had an assist in two games with Lake Erie.
Fort Wayne is short-handed at forward because of injuries to Paul Crowder (ankle) and C.J. Severyn (knee), while they had already lost Eric Faille, Garrett Meurs, Mitchell Heard and Reid Petryk to AHL call-ups.
But the Komets have had a next-man-up attitude all season and that won’t change this week.
"We’re OK on numbers for this weekend," Graham said.
But he doesn’t know how long Embach and Szydlowski will be gone.
"We don’t know," he said. "I think with the NHL trade deadline just having passed and a lot of moves happening, a lot of AHL teams kind of got raided, and Norfolk is down to nine forwards."