Fort Wayne, IN-- The Komets announced Monday that four players have been added to the preseason roster. Defenseman Curtis Leonard and forward Mason Baptista have agreed to terms and will be returning to the Fort Wayne fold for 2016-17. Also rookie forwards Daniel Erlich and Chase Nieuwendyk have inked agreements to make their pro debuts with the Komets.
Leonard, 23, started last season with Reading appearing in three ECHL games before being acquired by the Komets. The Napanee, Ontario native skated 10 games with the Komets scoring an assist and eight penalty minutes before being traded to Evansville. Leonard finished his rookie pro year skating 39 games with the IceMen scoring six assists and seven points.
Leonard made his pro debut at the end of 2014-15 logging five games with Reading and one AHL game with Rochester after completing a four-year collegiate career with R.P.I. in the ECAC. While a member of R.P.I., Leonard was selected twice to the All-Academic Team and led defensemen in points in each of his last two college seasons.
Baptista, 26, will be entering his second full pro year after skating 47 games last season with Wichita before adding 15 games with Fort Wayne in the ECHL. In 2014-15 the North York, Ontario native completed four seasons with St. Norbert College in the NCAA (III) where he won two National Championships. Baptista also led the Green Knights with 26 assists and 34 points during 2014-15 and was named a Second team All-American and All-Conference player before making his pro debut scoring two goals and three points in four ECHL games with Quad City.
Erlich, 25, spent the last two seasons in Europe skating in the Sweden Elite league. In 2014-15 Erlich split the season between Mariestad and Ostersunds. Last year the Thornhill, Ontario native led Ostersunds with 30 assists and 39 points in 36 games.
Erlich opened his juniors career in 2007-08 skating 21 games with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in the OPHJL before adding 27 games with London in the OHL. In 2010-11 he registered a career juniors year scoring 20 goals, 44 assists and 64 points in a split season with London and Guelph. Erlich made his European debut appearing in 16 games with Salzburg in Austria before returning for a fifth season in the OHL where he fashioned 23 assists and 32 points in 37 games with Barrie. Erlich began a two-year collegiate stint with the University of Western Ontario in 2012-13 earning a spot on the CIS (OUA West) All-Rookie Team. In 2013-14 the forward recorded his second and final college season leading the CIS (OUA) with 40 assists and 50 points in 28 games with the Mustangs, earning him recognition on the CIS (OUA West) First All-Star Team.
Nieuwendyk, 25, finished a four-year NCAA-III collegiate career with Brockport in the SUNYAC (State University of New York Athletic Conference) last season leading Brockport for the second straight year in goals with 14. The rookie forward also led the team with 37 points for the third consecutive season.
Nieuwendyk is a nephew of NHL Hall-of-Famer Joe Nieuwendyk and began his juniors career in 2008-09 with Brampton in the OJHL. The Georgetown, Ontario native led Brampton with 24 goals in 2009-10 and completed his juniors career in 2011-12 skating 49 games with Trenton, leading the golden Hawks with 27 goals and 57 points.
The Komet roster grows to 16 players with the addition of Leonard, Baptista, Erlich and Nieuwendyk. The preseason roster includes 11 forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender. -See preseason roster-
Three preseason games slated-- The Komets will skate three exhibition games, two at home and one on the road. The preseason schedule is as follows:Friday, Oct. 7, Indy Fuel at Fort Wayne Komets, 8pm ET (Allen County War Memorial Coliseum)Saturday, Oct. 8, Fort Wayne Komets at Indy Fuel, 6pm ET (Indiana Farmers Coliseum)Monday, Oct. 10, Brampton Beast at Fort Wayne Komets, 7:30pm ET (Allen County War Memorial Coliseum)
The Komets will open the season with a home-and-home series against the Quad City Mallards starting Friday, Oct. 14 at Quad City. Both teams return to Fort Wayne for the Komets' home opener Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30pm.
Season tickets and group tickets for 2016-17 are on sale at the Komet office at 1010 Memorial Way in Fort Wayne. Call the Komet office at 260-483-0011 or visit komets.com for information.