By Don Stewart
READING, Pa. – It’s not exactly minor-league hockey’s equivalent to Joltin Joe’s hit streak. Mike Kompon would need to keep this up for 20 more games to tie the league record, anyway.
But considering the chaos of daily transition that’s plagued the Reading Royals in the past month, the fact that Kompon has at least one point in his last 18 ECHL games is almost astonishing.
Like the cast of “Law and Order,” his line has been in constant flux. Hasn’t mattered. Kompon has found ways to get his points.
“Mike’s an elite player in our league,” Royals coach Karl Taylor said. “There’s not a team in our league that wouldn’t like to have him. He’s going to get his points. It’s just about how many you’re going to limit him to each game.”
Entering Friday’s showdown with the first-place Wheeling Nailers (7:05, Sovereign Center), Kompon leads the ECHL with 33 assists in 31 games. Thursday, he was named to the ECHL All-Star Game as a replacement for Wheeling’s Kurtis McLean, who is playing in the AHL.
It’s a well-deserved honor for Kompon, who has 13 multi-point games, has been shut out just four times, and leads the second-place Royals with 42 points.
During the league-high 18-game streak, Kompon has 24 assists and three goals. Notice a trend?
“I’ve always been more of a distributor,” said the 23-year-old Thunder Bay, Ontario native. “I’m usually not a huge goal scorer. I usually get more assists. I’ve always been more a disher than a shooter. Sometimes that’s not a good thing.”
While he has 20-20 on-ice vision and a knack for making his linemates better, Kompon admits passing up good opportunities to put the goal in the net. That reluctant trigger finger is one of the few nit-picks Taylor has had with the centerman’s game.
Despite being in Reading for almost all of the season, Kompon is only seventh on the team in shots. Among those with more are Greg Hogeboom and Mike Pandolfo, neither of whom are with the Royals anymore.
“We’ll take all the goals we can get, right?” Taylor said. “Mike’s a passer, there’s no question. His vision is outstanding. But he needs to shoot the puck a little bit more.”
But overall, Taylor sees a more complete player than he did at the start of the season. He sees Kompon being more committed on the defensive end, making better D-zone reads, finishing his checks.
He’s also maturing as a leader. The past few games, Kompon has served as an alternate captain in the place of the injured Jon Francisco.
That ‘A’ on his jersey could be prophetic. Earlier this month, Kompon was loaned to Manchester of the AHL, where he had one assist in two games.
It wasn’t the legitimate AHL shot that he’s been craving, but it did give him a glance at how he stacks up at that level.
“I saw there were parts to my game that I need to get better at,” he said. Those part include being more tenacious, pressuring the puck more, not taking breaks on the ice.
“I have no doubt in my mind that he’s an American League-caliber player,” Taylor said.
As for the streak, Kompon isn’t paying much attention to it. His current line with power forward Doug Christiansen and LA Kings prospect Dany Roussin has been impossible to shut out, though, giving him a great chance at keeping it going.
“It’s more of a fun stat,” Kompon said. “I just want to help the team anyway I can. It says a lot for the guys around me. They’re putting the puck in the net and I’m just getting the benefits from it.”
No doubt they’re benefiting from him, as well.