Two months ago, Mike Vaskivuo was ready to quit hockey and try to get a good start on his summer. Monday night he was named Most Valuable Player of the Central Hockey League playoffs.
Vaskivuo's turnaround sounds like a movie. Released at the trade deadline by Rapid City, he was claimed by the Komets after slipping through 11 other CHL teams. The Komets needed him because Artem Podshendyalov decided to go home to Russia.
``I think the acquisition of Vaskivuo should be the move of the year,'' Komets coach Al Sims said. ``For any team to grab a guy who comes in at the trade deadline and becomes the playoff MVP and really shot us out of a cannon when he got here. Offensively, we never had a problem after he arrived.''
Vaskivuo finished the regular season with two goals and nine points in seven games, but he was even stronger during the playoffs, leading the Komets with 10 goals and 24 points. He finished one point off Terry McDougall's team record of 25 points in a playoff season set in 1978.
``I was just so fortunate that Fort Wayne gave me an opportunity,'' Vaskivuo said. ``I never would have thought in a million years I'd win a cup this year.''
The line of Vaskivuo, Colin Chaulk and Chris Auger led the Komets' offense during the playoffs as Auger scored 22 points and Chaulk 19.
``What a pick-up, eh?'' Chaulk said. ``We played together. We had stretches in games where we were average, but for the most part we played together. Each person went to the hard areas, and each was able to get the easy ones because of that.
“I'm just so happy for Vask to be able to get the MVP. It couldn't be a better ending for him.''
It was also a great ending because the line dominated against Rapid City; Vaskivuo he led the team with four goals and eight points in six games. Missouri concentrated on shutting the line down during the Turner Conference finals, but the other lines stepped up. The top line was back on against Wichita as Vaskivuo scored four goals and 10 points in five games.
``Everybody does video work on the other teams, and they want to shut guys down on our team,'' Vaskivuo said ``Missouri did a good job on our line, and that's why we're so good because we have depth. The other two lines got it going against Missouri, and against Wichita everybody was rolling. We're a championship team because everybody was good.''
And because Vaskivuo didn't go home early.