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Ben Smith

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Bad mouth Cyclones? Not Embach

The bulletin board goes hungry. That's the main thing we'll get out of all this.

It's the end of practice, and Komets winger Mike Embach comes off the ice to find some media type waiting for him, and so he stops to talk. It's a couple of days before the Komets head for Cincinnati to open the second round of the ECHL playoffs. Embach is a former Cyclone. Therein must surely hang a tale.

And so the media type shows up, and Embach talks, the words coming out of him like he's in a hurry to get to the end of them. And the bulletin board starves.

“I've still got a lot of buddies on that team, and I'm pretty close with some of the people in the organization and at the building at U.S. Bank, and I know a lot of people in the city,” Embach says in his rapid-fire way.

“So, obviously, yeah, I'd like to go in there and do well and hopefully see our team succeed.”

Or in other words: I want to go down there and drop-kick them into Kentucky.

Not that those other words are ever uttered, of course.

Instead, when the media type points out that Embach has had a fair amount of success against the Cyclones this season, he just smiles and says, well, you know, stuff happens. And, yeah, maybe it happens a little more when it's Cincinnati across the ice.

“I guess it just goes back to the will and the want to prove them wrong,” he says. “I got traded out of there, so I guess I want to show that was a mistake, I guess.”

“And that's it?” media type replies.

Again the smile.

“I don't know,” he says. “In my head, I guess that's it. Every time we play there, I want to be the best player on the ice, I want to do well. So hopefully that'll carry over to the series. My whole line with Syd (Shawn Szydlowski) and Clarkie (Aaron Clark) has been playing well, so hopefully we'll keep that going against them.”

No bulletin board stuff in that.

The Embach-Szydlowski-Clarke line has been playing well. Embach had five points in five games against Reading; Clarke got the series-winning goal and two others; and, the ESC line accounted for seven goals and 14 points in the series. Pretty stout.

As for Embach, the first round continued what's been a solid season overall. He's scored 24 goals and 46 points in 57 games with the Komets. And in five games against the Cyclones after coming to Fort Wayne on Dec. 12 for Bobby Hughes and Rob Kwiet, he scored three goals and had one assist.

So, yeah, bring 'em on. Not that he'll put it that way, exactly.

“Yeah, definitely,” he says when asked if there's more incentive to playing against former teammates. “We're buddies off the ice, but as soon as we get on there, there's zero percent of me that wants to lose to them at any point, you know?”

Sure. And, yes, because they are former teammates, he knows 'em a little more, just as they know him a little more.

“Absolutely,” says Embach, who played all of last season for the Cyclones before they traded him to Gwinnett five games into this season. “I know the systems. I've practiced against them for a full season. So it makes it easier for me to read (them).”

And is that, perhaps, one of the reasons the Komets pretty much owned the Cyclones in the regular season, going 5-1-2 against them?

Right. Like Embach's gonna say that.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.