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Sitting out rejuvenates Komets’ Sol

April 6, 2018 GMT

Cody Sol has totaled career highs in goals (eight) and points (27) despite playing only 50 games, because he missed 17 straight games to have elbow surgery.

“It wasn’t an injury you’d ever want, but it was lingering for a while, and it was good to get the surgery done,” said Sol, who scored a goal in his return to the lineup March 28. “I rested my hips, and I rested my legs and my whole body is good now.”

The Komets (44-19-6) complete the regular season with three games this weekend : 7:15 p.m. today at Toledo; 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Coliseum against Wheeling; and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum against Cincinnati : and then will be the No. 2 seed in the Central Division semifinals and most likely face Cincinnati in a best-of-7 series that begins April 14 at the Coliseum.

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Sol will be a pivotal figure for the Komets, especially with two of their top offensive defensemen, Ryan Culkin and Bobby Shea, among the injured list that includes Jamie Schaafsma, Artur Tyanulin, Marc-Olivier Roy and Taylor Crunk. In addition, Trevor Cheek and Zac Larraza are with Tucson of the higher-level American Hockey League.

Not only is Sol one of the Komets’ leaders : the alternate captain, 27, is in his fourth season with the team : he is one of their toughest players and has maybe their hardest shot. At 6-foot-6, 242 pounds, he’s able to contribute in myriad ways, including special teams where he has four assists in shorthanded situations. He also has a plus-29 rating.

Being forced to watch so many games from the stands may have made him a better player upon his return.

“Sitting up in the 600 level, you can really see the plays develop,” Sol said. “You can sometimes get mad at guys and say, ‘Why did he make that play?’ You may see something that looks easier. But it’s like watching a video game. It’s a faster pace when you’re at a lower level and you don’t see as much. But being up in the stands you really see and really watch the game develop and it helped me out, I think.”

The Komets are in the midst of a 2-3-3 slump and have had to become more reliant on their defense, which allowed an average 3.13 goals in that span, than their offense, which scored 2.25 per game.

“I’ve been on teams where if you’re not at your best, you’re going to need a spectacular goalie outing to get two points,” said coach Gary Graham, who could have rookie forwards Tanner Froese and Phelix Martineau make their debuts tonight, after Anthony Petruzzelli was added last week.

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The Komets want to get traffic in front of the opposing net, and screen opposing goalies, especially if Sol’s rocketing shots are on the way.

“It’s not that we don’t talk about (getting traffic) a lot, that’s all I can say. You can until you’re blue in the face,” Graham said. “It’s the ugly offense that’s going to win in the playoffs. We have to try and find a better way of doing that.”

Notes: Shawn Szydlowski, who leads the ECHL with 77 points, was voted First Team All-ECHL by coaches, reporters, broadcasters and media relations directors for a second time. He was joined by South Carolina goalie Parker Milner, defensemen David Makowski of Allen and Matt Register of Colorado, and forwards Michael Joly of Colorado and Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman of Manchester. Fort Wayne’s Garrett Thompson and Gabriel Desjardins, who are tied for third and 11th in league scoring, respectively, didn’t make the Second Team either. ... The Komets will wear special jerseys Saturday for Marvel Avengers Night and kids are invited to dress up. ... The Komets will present their team awards following Sunday’s game.

jcohn@jg.net