Jordon Southorn had been close so many times to becoming an American Hockey League player. But it hadn’t happened, even after he had a career-best 12 goals, 36 points and 83 penalty minutes in 70 games last season with Elmira of the ECHL, and frustration was getting the better of him.
Having a career year in Elmira and not getting anything, it set me back in my mind, and I was thinking it wasn’t going to happen and it would be over, said Southorn, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound defenseman who has been among the ECHL’s best while playing for the Komets.
This season, I came in just saying it could be my last year and let’s have fun with it and things have been picking up.
He was twice called up to the AHL in March. He didn’t get into a game with Hamilton but did play once, assisting on a goal, with Portland.
It was really fun and good experience (in Portland), he said. They told me there were some things they want me to work on, like being more of a shooter, so I’ve been shooting the puck a lot more, and they seemed like they liked me a lot. They said they would talk to me in the offseason, and hopefully, they do that. It’s my fourth year in the (ECHL), and hopefully, I can get an AHL deal.
But the goal right now is to get into the playoffs and make a run for it with these guys.
Southorn was a fourth-round draft pick of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres in 2008 but wasn’t signed by the Sabres after his junior career with Prince Edward Island.
He played two seasons with Trenton and Wheeling of the ECHL from 2010 to 2012, getting called up to Providence of the AHL for two games along the way.
After tallying eight goals and 30 points in his first 89 ECHL games, he blossomed with the Jackals.
There was speculation I would never get called up, said Southorn, who began this season with Dundee in the United Kingdom but returned to Elmira after three games.
I’ve logged a lot of air miles this season.
The Jackals made him the centerpiece of a Nov. 25 trade with the Komets for captain Nick Tuzzolino, who wound up spending most of the season with Rochester of the AHL.
Southorn has 12 goals, 32 points, 38 penalty minutes, a plus-4 rating and six power-play goals in 54 games with Fort Wayne (34-24-12), which plays host to Evansville (30-29-11) on Friday.
The Komets could clinch a playoff spot tonight if Florida loses to Reading in regulation.
Being in Fort Wayne, I’ve been very happy, Southorn said. (Coach Gary Graham) has given me the green light to be offensive and to play my game. I’ve been pitching in offensively, which I’m proud of, and I know the guys are enjoying it. But coming down the stretch, I know I have to be better defensively. At this time of year, the games are going to be a lot tighter, 2-1, 3-1, that sort of thing.
Southorn, 23, is third among ECHL defensemen in goals (13) and seventh in points (36), including his three games with Elmira. He hopes to parlay that into an AHL contract this summer.
Off the ice, that’s what I’m thinking about, he said. But when I’m here, it’s just Fort Wayne Komets and playoff hockey.