Sunday, February 23, 2014


Following Former Dukes in Florida

Following Former Dukes in Florida

                                                 Chris Auger, James Hurst, Scott Fleming

Early last week, Scott Fleming and Chris Auger rolled into Fort Myers with the rest of the Fort Wayne Komets. They were scheduled to play three games against the Florida Everblades at the Germaine Arena: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. This is not an ideal situation, as certain hostilities can flare up more quickly with games packed so tightly together. It is necessary, however, due to the financial restraints of the East Coast Hockey League. And the players do not mind one bit. They get almost a week of fine Florida sunshine in the midst of one of the nastiest winters on record.

Both former Dukes are enjoying outstanding seasons in Fort Wayne. They play on the most productive line on the team with Brandon Marino, another college kid from Bemidji State. The Komets lost the first game of the late season series on Wednesday night. The Everblades turned in a solid defensive effort, winning 4-1. I spoke with the Comets’ coach, Gary Graham, after the game.

“I coached Chris Auger two years ago in Fort Wayne. I am quite familiar with his game. I was aware of the fact that he had experienced a good summer on the ice in Canada, preparing for the season. (In the 2012-2013 season, Auger was seriously injured, and played only four games.) I was really pleased with Auger’s progress.”

Another pleasant surprise came to coach Graham in the form of Scott Fleming. “Chris told me that he had a friend who might be interested in playing in Fort Wayne. I checked him out with previous coaches, and everyone had nice things to say about Fleming. I was a little concerned because he played very little last year.” (Six games in the ECHL with the Gwinnett Gladiators.) 

Graham summed up his report card on both players. “They bring quality to the team, and to the locker room. They are cerebral players, and know how to play all sections of the ice. They want to be Komets, and they want to win.”

Fleming and Auger played two full seasons together with the Dukes , from 2004 to 2006. The following year, Auger went on to play at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, enjoying an outstanding college career. He played in the CHL the following two seasons, beginning in Mississisppi with the RiverKings. After 50 games this season in Fort Wayne, he has 23 goals and 19 assists.

Fleming moved on to Dartmouth College in the ECAC after leaving the Dukes. He spent four years there, and had a cup of coffee with the Gwinnett Gladiators last year. He has 11 goals and 23 assists this season.

Dukes fans will remember both of these players as crafty, elusive players. Fleming had 68 points in 48  games in his last season with the Dukes. Auger rang up 92 points in 47 games in his concluding year with the Dukes.

                                            Neil Diamond impersonator Jay White!

Jay White sang the National Anthem, and Sweet Caroline between periods! Great job! Kitchener born, he also loves to tend the twine in his home town, Las Vegas. He plays with NHL Old Timers!

Kyle Bonis continued his fine play for the Everblades in the series. The former Bancroft Hawk who played against Auger and Fleming in the OPJHL, Bonis now has 32 points in 46 games, and is competing with Fleming as the league’s rookie of the year.

On Saturday night, the Komets took the rubber match 3-1, despite furious pressure from the Blades in the dying moments of the game.

The Everblades goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis, is now on his way back to South West Florida after a stellar performance in Sochi for his native Latvia. He very nearly relegated the Canadian team to the netherland, losing 2-1 in a very close match.

Relax now. No more Olympics for another four years.

James Hurst        

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