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Hodgman: All-Star Captain

January 17, 2019

Justin Hodgman got pretty emotional when he found out this news from Komets coach Gary Graham: He has been named captain of the Western Conference All-Star Team.

“I actually shed a tear after Gary told me about it,” said Hodgman, who will be Fort Wayne’s player representative in the game Monday at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, and believes he’ll be able to play despite missing the last three Fort Wayne games with a hand injury.

“I sat by myself in the car and had a little time to reflect. I’m not in the lineup so I’ve got a lot of things going through my mind, so I was able to focus on that for a bit. I’m rambling, but it means the world to me and to my kids and my family, and to a lot of people who helped me get through a tough time. It’s validation. It means a lot.”

Hodgman, 30, has been forthcoming that being selected as an all-star has been very meaningful for him, after he totaled nine goals and 25 points in 30 games last season, one that was hindered by a shoulder injury, illnesses and a death in the family. He was able to play in only one playoff game before being concussed in the opener and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue playing this season.

The Komets stuck with him, however, committing one of their four veteran spots to the former NHL player, and he’s repaid them with 12 goals and a team-leading 39 points in 32 games.

It’s the first time he’s been selected an all-star since he was in juniors.

While he’s filled in as an alternate captain at times this season, he’s not accustomed to having a letter on his jersey; Jamie Schaafsma is the Komets’ captain and Cody Sol and Marco Roy are the alternates.

“This means the world to me,” Hodgman said. “From where I was last year and where I was the last few years, to be named the captain of the Western Conference All-Star Team, I can’t really put it into words. I thought it might be a possibility, just looking at the roster, knowing I’m the old guy, so I knew it could be a possibility. But I’ve never been the captain of any team my whole entire life. I never really gave it an entire thought.”

Hodgman’s teammate, Shawn Szydlowski, captained the ECHL’s All-Star Team in 2017, another unusual situation since Schaafsma was the Komets’ captain then, too.

The good news is lettering Hodgman’s jersey with the ‘C’ won’t be a problem because Joe and Aaron Franke, equipment managers of the Komets, will be on hand as the equipment managers at the All-Star Classic.

The format will be a 3-on-3 tournament between two teams from the host Toledo Walleye, the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference, beginning at 7 p.m. Monday. The games will be broadcast on the NHL Network.

The Komets also play the Walleye 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Huntington Center, a game in which the Komets hope Hodgman will be able to play.

jcohn@jg.net

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