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Elmira at Komets
Face-off: 8 p.m.
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
If Chris Auger were a normal person coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, he'd just about be returning to full strength at the halfway point of the regular season. He'd be knocking the rest off like most of us are knocking snow off our shoes.
Instead, the Komets winger is producing easily his best season ever with 17 goals and 29 points in 35 games. Because he played only four games last year, it's a remarkable achievement to everyone but Auger.
"The way I look at it, I had the whole summer like everyone else and the offseason and training camp to get ready again,'' he said. "Obviously, last year was unfortunate, but I had the same amount of time as these guys to get ready again. I was skating again and I felt that if I could have some success in early games the transition would be pretty easy.''
He's made it look easy. His previous career-best season was two years ago when he scored 28 goals and 59 points in 58 Central Hockey League games. Now he's teamed with Brandon Marino and Scott Fleming on one of the ECHL's top forward lines.
Auger played in only four games last season after he took a hip check from Evansville's Aaron Gens on Oct. 20, 2012. He had surgery the next month and then seethed from the press box as the Komets' season fell apart. All he could do was work on his rehab and hope for another chance this season.
"I'm not saying it was easy, because there were times when I didn't think I'd play, but I'm very happy with where everything is at,'' Auger said. "I still feel the effects on a daily basis, but it's very tolerable.''
What's even more startling is that Auger is usually a slow starter and doesn't get his offensive numbers cranked up until halfway through the season. This season he was good from the beginning, teaming with boyhood friend Fleming to surprise almost everyone.
"I wanted a fast start because I wanted to play a certain role, and I wanted a big role in this team,'' he said. "It's definitely a lot of fun playing again. I'm definitely cherishing this year and it's special after being away from the game for some time.
"I'm happy that wasn't the end. Now it's exciting just playing again. As an athlete, you always want to go out on your own terms.''