FORT WAYNE, IN — There will be at least one name on the back of a Komets uniform that Fort Wayne fans recognize on the ice this coming season.
Team captain Jamie Schaafsma, 35, is returning for his fourth season in a Komets uniform and 15th total in his career. In addition, he will continue his role as a player/assistant coach for the third year in a row.
“Having our captain back was a priority for us this summer,” Komet general manager David Franke said in a news release. “Jamie Schaafsma’s leadership on and off the ice is very important to our overall success. Jamie can play all three forward positions and defense if needed. He still has the fire to win and we are fortunate to have him, his wife Nicole and their four children returning to the Komet family.”
The Chatham, Ontario native scored 12 goals and dished out 27 assists in 48 regular season games in the 2017-18 campaign. He topped that off with five goals and two assists in 18 playoff games. In his Komets career, Schaafsma has 54 goals and 74 helpers in 171 games. In spite of his reputation as a defensive player, he plays a mostly gentlemanly style than a grinder often might with 30 penalty minutes last season, bringing his Komets total to 122.
“I’m looking forward to a bounceback year for myself, but to keep building on the championship culture I feel we’re building in Fort Wayne,” Schaafsma told the News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne. “We have good chemistry in that locker room. A lot of big players are leaving, and we’re going to have a big job to do, but the culture has to stay up and I know I’m a big part of that.”
Also announced Thursday was the return of Jason Binkley and Ryan Lowney. The pair will be donning a Komets uniform for their third season.
“Jason Binkley and Ryan Lowney are similar players. Both have good offensive ability as well as being sound defensively,” Franke said in a statement. “They move the puck well and complement our forwards. Both are key parts to building our defensive core.”
Binkley, 26, has spent parts of the past four seasons in the ECHL. After a 2014-15 stint with the South Carolina Stingrays, he moved on to the Utah Grizzlies in 2015-16, scoring one goal and adding six assists in 43 games and wrapped up the year with a pair of games with the Cincinnati Cyclones.
He broke out with the Komets in 2016-17. He scored seven goals and handed out 37 assists in 67 games for Fort Wayne, to go along with 40 penalty minutes and a +19. His numbers dropped a little in 2017-18, with seven goals and 27 assists in 70 games played, with 48 penalty minutes and a +13. He has proven to be a playoff performer: in 28 games with the Komets, he has four goals and nine assists.
Lowney, 24, will be back for his third season in Fort Wayne. After graduating from Ferris State University, he joined the Komets for 14 games in 2016-17. He tallied one goal and five assists in those games. Last season was his first full season in Fort Wayne, where he netted seven goals and added 19 assists in 60 games. His penalty minutes (22) also matched his plus/minus (+22).
Schaafsma, Binkley, and Lowney join forward Anthony Petruzzelli and defenseman Kevin Gibson on a Komets preseason roster left barren due to recent departures of key players like Garrett Thompson, Gabriel Desjardins, and Mason Baptista.
You can keep up on all the player movement around the ECHL by visiting our transactions page at https://thesinbin.net/2018-echl-transactions/.