The Komets haven’t had a player finish the season as their league’s leading scorer since way back in 1990-91, when they had the IHL’s top two point-getters, Lonnie Loach with 131 and Bruce Boudreau with 120, both in 81 games.
But Brandon Marino is on pace to accomplish the feat with an ECHL-leading 78 points in 64 games this season.
He is two points ahead of Alaska’s Peter Sivak with eight games left in the regular season.
Obviously, you know what you have (in points), said Marino, whose Komets (30-23-11) play at South Carolina (38-20-6) on Friday and Saturday. But at this point of the season, we just need to keep winning. If we have team efforts the rest of the way here, and put ourselves in good position to be in a playoff spot, then once you get in you never know what can happen.
The Komets are in danger of missing the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time since 1974 and 1975. They are in the eighth and final Eastern Conference slot, two points ahead of Florida and three up on Evansville, who play tonight.
Since Loach, the Komets player to come closest to a scoring title was Luciano Aquino, who had 91 points and finished three back of Kalamazoo’s Kory Karlander in 2007-08 in the reincarnated IHL.
Marino was second in CHL scoring in 2011-12 with Quad City, finishing two points behind Evansville’s Todd Robinson. In 132 games over two seasons with the Komets, Marino has 44 goals and 151 points despite frequent changes to the line combinations.
When you’re doing well personally, you’re more confident and feel like you’re helping your team more, too. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to be a guy who produces, works hard and makes plays, Marino said. If I didn’t have good numbers, then I wouldn’t be doing my job. On a personal level, it’s nice (to lead the league) and I’m happy about it, and it does translate to wins for my team and that’s good, too. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about it. But as long as it results in wins, that’s what it’s about.
Amazingly, Marino has played only one game in the higher-level American Hockey League – last season with Norfolk.
Marino doesn’t know why he hasn’t gotten more of a look, while teammates Scott Fleming, Jace Coyle, Jordon Southorn and Andrey Makarov have been called up this season. Of that group, only Makarov has a contract with a higher-level team (Buffalo of the NHL), so it’s clear scouts have looked at Marino and passed. He’s only 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, but he’s about the same size as Fleming, who is only a year younger.
It’s in the back of your mind sometimes, Marino said, when asked about the AHL. That’s why we’re all here, right? To try and get to the next level. I haven’t gotten that opportunity. There must be something missing in my game. It can be frustrating at times.
But I’m here, so I’m going to work hard here and do whatever I can to help this team win. I’m not going to focus too much on why I’m not up or not getting the chance. I will focus on doing well here and the rest will work itself out.
Notes: The Komets have re-signed Max Strang, giving them three goalies along with Ben Meisner and Matt Grogan. Strang is 0-1-1 with a 3.73 goals-against average and a .839 save percentage in three games with Fort Wayne.