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Bartus has been Komets' best surprise this season

News-Sentinel photo by Blake Sebring<br /> <br /> Komets goaltender Garrett Bartus has made many incredible saves this season, including this one on Cincinnati's Dominic Zombo on Jan. 20.
News-Sentinel photo by Blake Sebring

Komets goaltender Garrett Bartus has made many incredible saves this season, including this one on Cincinnati's Dominic Zombo on Jan. 20.
Garrett Bartus
Garrett Bartus
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Goaltender has been lifesaver through injuries

Thursday, February 16, 2017 12:00 pm
Wonder who might be the Fort Wayne Komets' Unsung Hero this season? Imagine where they'd be without goaltender Garrett Bartus. After being named the Southern Professional Hockey League's Most Valuable Player last season, Bartus, 27, was part of the Komets' training camp, but was sent back to Macon. Then when Pat Nagle was injured on Oct. 28, Komets coach Gary Graham called up Bartus.

"Grammer knew what I was, knew how I played, he knew all that coming into this year," Bartus said. "He told me exactly what was going to happen coming into training camp. He told me he was going to have an opportunity for me to play this year so if you don't make the team out of camp, stay patient, and you're going to get a call from us eventually, I'm sure of that. It happened and I took advantage of it."

Bartus was a Godsend for the Komets, going 15-6-1 so far with a 2.56 goals against average and .908 save percentage. He's the reason they are still in second place in the ECHL's Central Division, ranking No. 6 among ECHL goalies and winning a permanent spot when Nagle returned. He's proven he's a legitimate ECHL netminder.

"That's what you hope for when you get these guys," Graham said. "Barts is setting himself up for the summertime really well. Even though he's a little bit older, you'd be dumb not to take a legitimate look at him and sign him to a regular contract and bring him into training camp."

Though he's 27 and might be considered older than most goaltenders in the ECHL, Bartus has proven that he's still improving. Many players would have become discouraged and maybe retired to civilian life by now.

"Anywhere you are, you want to get in games and help the team win because if you are just sitting on the bench, sometimes it's a miserable existence," he said. "When you get to play, you have to take advantage of it and have fun every day. I'm having fun with it still.

"As long as you are having fun, and your body is healthy, play as long as you can. A lot of guys will hang them up and the next year they already have the itch to come back. Everybody says, once you are done, you are done so try to play as long as you can."

Because Bartus played two games with Fort Wayne in 2014-15, the Komets already knew all about him and he knew the situation here. Now he's established himself as a reliable teammate and solid locker room guy. When he's playing, he projects the confidence that it's his game, his net and his team.

"I just want to win," he said. "When I first stared playing in December, the team was doing a really good job of scoring goals and blocking shots and that really helped with my confidence. When your team is scoring in four or five goals a game, it makes your job a lot easier as a goalie even if you do let in a bad goal or two. You know your team is going to have your back. That helped me get my feet under me and get my confidence going.

"It's one of the most tight-nit group of guys I've ever been with as a pro. We put the work in. After practice almost every day guys are saying on and working on their games, striving to get better. It's never hard to find guys if the goalie wants to do a couple of more drills. Everyone is working hard here, and it makes it a fun environment."

For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.


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