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Posted on Thu. Nov. 22, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Komets’ rookie finding his niche

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Komets

vs. Kalamazoo

When: 7:30 p.m. today at Kalamazoo

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday vs. Toledo

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM

FORT WAYNE — A rookie should know that he doesn’t know everything, right?

Matt Firman, a 23-year-old forward with the Komets, is cognizant that he’s just getting his feet wet in the professional ranks, and that it might take a time to get it all right.

That’s why he was working on his skating and shooting after practice Tuesday, as most of his teammates had taken shelter in the warmth of the Lutheran Health SportsCenter locker rooms.

And that’s why Firman can admit that: “Sometimes, I slap myself in the face and say, ‘You’re 6-foot-3, and you’ve got to play like it. You’ve got to take the body when you can.’ ”

Eleven games into his first ECHL season, Firman has scored one goal and two points.

But as the team has endured myriad injuries – Chris Auger (knee), Eric Giosa (ankle), Matt Kennedy (leg), Ryan Hegarty (hand), Marco Cousineau (groin) – and the call-up of Nick Schaus to Norfolk of the American Hockey League, Firman’s ice time has increased heavily.

“I just take whatever I can get. But the ice time over the past couple weeks has been good,” he said. “You hope no one ever gets injured, but you do have to take advantage of it when it falls in your lap.”

The Komets’ performances haven’t been good lately, though, as they’ve lost three in a row, including a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Evansville IceMen on Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.

Today, they begin a string of three games in as many nights with the annual Thanksgiving Night game at the Coliseum. It’s the first half of a home-and-home series with Kalamazoo.

Against the Wings (8-7-0), who are coming off three straight games in Orlando, Fla., including a 4-3 victory Tuesday, the Komets (7-5-1) want to play physically but stay out of the penalty box.

“I try to be as physical as I can, but sometimes I get away from it a little,” said Firman, whose team gave up three power-play goals on Saturday.

The Komets are also scoreless in their last 20 power-play opportunities, where they’ve been trying new combinations.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Firman, who played four years at Colgate University, on special teams tonight.

“In college, I was a little bit of a grinder. And I chipped in to the offense whenever I could. That’s what I’m trying to do here,” said Firman, who is from Fayetteville, N.Y. “I’m trying to make a role for myself. I think I’m best when I’m doing a little bit of everything. I’m taking the body. I’m getting the puck deep. I’m keeping it simple.”

Notes: According to the Komets, Don Tanner, a Komets and IHL historian, has uncovered two more Thanksgiving Day games played in the franchise’s past. They were in 1952 (a 3-2 loss at Cincinnati) and 1957 (a 7-3 loss to visiting Toledo). So, the Komets are 32-15-4 in Turkey Day games at the Coliseum and 2-2-0 on the road.

jcohn@jg.net


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