GLENS FALLS -- Garrett Klotz won't rule it out, but the full plastic shield he's been wearing over his face the last two games likely prevents him from fighting.
Not all that long ago, that would have meant the Adirondack Phantoms forward had no purpose being on the ice. These days, it hardly seems like a problem.
No, Klotz isn't going to turn into a scoring-line player anytime soon. But in his abbreviated preseason and two regular-season games back so far, Klotz has shown he can be an effective player without his gloves ever leaving his hands.
The 6-foot-5 Klotz scored on a breakaway, of all things, in his second game back from injury on Saturday against Springfield. He also had a goal in two preseason games. The two goals are as many as Klotz had in his first 122 AHL games.
"I sometimes think he's put himself into a category of just being a very physical guy when he can be a physical guy and a power forward," Phantoms coach Joe Paterson said.
Klotz's strong camp raised expectations for the season and made it doubly frustrating when Albany's Harry Young broke his nose in a fight late in the team's second preseason game on Oct 1. Klotz missed the first nine games of the season, though he skated most of the time during practice with a face guard.
Klotz won't be sorry to see the full shield go after this weekend, when he's cleared to play without it.
"It (stinks). It gets hot and it gets foggy and it limits your vision," Klotz said. "But there's nothing I can do with it. Got to work with it."
Persevering has been the story for Klotz since he debuted with the Phantoms four seasons ago. Coaches have always identified him as one of the team's hardest workers, but he did little to fulfill being a third-round draft pick in 2007.
His time in the organization seemed over when the Flyers shipped him to the CHL last season with the instructions to focus on his hockey skills. With increased ice time, he blossomed in Bloomington. Klotz put up 24 points in 49 games and was an astounding plus-21.
The Flyers rewarded him by signing him to an AHL deal for this season. Still just 23, it was a new lease on his career.
"I feel real good out there. I lost a few pounds this summer, leaned up and worked on my hockey skills," Klotz said. "Joe's shown a lot of confidence in me so it helps me with that."
With 94 penalty minutes in his only full AHL season, Klotz was generally willing to fight, but never seemed to relish being solely an enforcer.
He now has a chance to be more now, though fighting will always be a dimension to his game, even as he continues to heal.
"I can still fight, I just got to be a little more cautious, a little more careful because (my nose) has been recently fractured," Klotz said. "I just have to take it easy."
Loose pucks: Veterans and active duty military personnel can get a free ticket to Friday's game with the purchase of another ticket. The deal must be claimed by Thursday at 5 p.m. and is only available at the Phantoms office in the Civic Center. They may be reached at 518-480-3355.