FORT WAYNE – It was just a matter of time until some higher-level team took notice of Scott Fleming, who was second among all rookies in the ECHL with 34 points, plus 11 goals, in 39 games with the Komets.
The American Hockey League’s Worcester Sharks were that team, and they called up Fleming on Tuesday.
When guys get called up, it’s up to us as a team how we handle it, Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said. It’s something every team has to deal with (in the ECHL). We haven’t had many call-ups this season, but we’re all really excited for Scott and extremely proud of him.
The Komets play today at Wheeling, W.Va., and Mike Embach will move on to the top line alongside Chris Auger and Brandon Marino, the top scorer in the ECHL.
This is an opportunity for new guys to step into new roles and for guys to step up, Graham said. Getting Embach on the top line, it will give him the opportunity to play with different guys and get more ice time. He’s a great player and I believe in him.
Embach has seven goals and 12 points in 19 games with Fort Wayne, since he was acquired from Gwinnett. In 35 games this season – he also played for Cincinnati – he has 13 goals and 24 points in 35 games.
The Komets are without an affiliation with an NHL or AHL team – last season, they were aligned with Anaheim of the NHL and Norfolk of the AHL – and Fleming is only the fourth player to be called up from Fort Wayne this season.
Goaltender John Muse went to Charlotte. Goalie Cody Reichard went to Iowa. And defenseman Jace Coyle went to Lake Erie.
Nick Tuzzolino, Mickey Lang and Brett Lyon were all called up shortly after being traded by the Komets.
Worcester is the top affiliate of the San Jose Sharks and they lost their ECHL team, the San Francisco Bulls, who suspended operations Monday because of financial problems.
That doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Fleming’s elevation. Worcester had recently called up Yanni Gourde from Kalamazoo and Tyler Gron from San Francisco, and they are vetting young players.
Fleming is 26 but, before this season, hadn’t played in about two years because of a concussion that forced him to retire until his old friend Auger convinced him to try out for the Komets.
This will be his first regular-season stint with an AHL team; Worcester plays host tonight to Binghamton.
Heading into their game at Wheeling (19-16-6), the Komets (17-14-8) are hoping to reverse the problems on their power play.
They have scored twice in their last 38 power plays.
They are also considering bringing in new players – that could include some of the disbanded San Francisco players, or players returning from Europe – in hopes of improving.
They are two points back of Wheeling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 33 games left.