For much of the summer, fans of the Komets wondered what was going on with one of their favorites, forward Stephon Thorne, who wowed with 11 goals and 32 points in 64 games as a 22-year-old, helping Fort Wayne to the CHL title.
He re-signed with the Komets on Thursday -- the team is joining the ECHL -- and said it really was never in doubt.
"I honestly didn't weigh my other options too much," said Thorne, who had one goal and six points in 18 playoff games. "I knew I wanted to play on a line with (Lincoln Kaleigh) Schrock and (Jean-Michel) Rizk again knew Fort Wayne was going to be my home for another year. I just wanted to give it a little time and see how it played out."
The Komets also announced they have an agreement in place with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League to get goaltender Kenny Reiter assigned to Fort Wayne – assuming he doesn't make the AHL club – and that they have signed forward Jean-Philipp Chabot.
Reiter, 25, is the younger brother of Kevin Reiter, who played for the Komets in 2007-08 and 2010-11, and was the IHL's Goaltender of the Year in 2008, when the Komets won the IHL's Turner Cup.
Kenny Reiter backstopped Minnesota-Duluth to the NCAA championship in 2011 and has played one professional game, with Bridgeport, last season.
If he's inFort Wayne, he will be paired with Charlie Effinger, who played last season for Missouri of the CHL. The Komets' reigning MVP, goalie Nick Boucher, who has won four titles in five years, is recovering from hip surgery and will be unable to play until at least January -- if at all.
Chabot, 24, tallied 22 goals, 44 points and 162 penalty minutes last season with the CHL's Arizona Sundogs, where his captain was Tyler Butler, signed earlier this summer by Fort Wayne.
"I love the roster with players like Eric Giosa and (CHL MVP) Brandon Marino, and the best players around that they've signed," Thorne said. "I think what they picked up with Butler, too, was huge. Good players and veteran guys. We have guys who can score and with Chabot, he's a physical guy and can put the puck in the net. We picked up what we needed."
The Komets have 16 players signed for next season – including Reiter, who's on an AHL contract – and they include returning stars like forwards Colin Chaulk, Brett Smith, Chris Auger, and defensemen Brent Henley and Daniel Maggio.
Training camp opens at Memorial Coliseum on Oct. 1.
The Komets will play exhibition games at the Coliseum against Evansville on Oct. 6 and 7, and they will play their first ECHL game against visiting Kalamazoo on Oct. 12.
"I'm very excited," Thorne said. "All the tradition with the franchise and the success of last (season), and all the guys they brought back, make it great. They made a decision of coming back with a lot of guys and going for another run (at a Cup)."