Sean OConnor spent his summer eating six meals a day and working out twice a day.
He added 15 pounds and believes hell be a better hockey player for it.
With two goals and six points in nine games this season with the Komets, the results seem solid so far.
I just want to be more competitive on the ice. I want to be able to skate through guys, said OConnor, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound right wing, who had 23 goals and 47 points in 59 games as a rookie last season with Fort Wayne.
Doing battle in the corners is a lot easier than it was last year. I relied a lot more on speed last season and by adding more strength, it makes it easier on myself.
OConnor, 22, is driven to make it to the American Hockey League, one step below the NHL.
As soon as possible, he said. I hope I get the chance.
Because of that aspiration, hes highly critical of almost every facet of his play.
Ive been working a lot more on my balance and a lot more on my strength, he said. Im trying to win the one-on-one battles and drive to the net. Im faster this year. And just all-around, Ive got to get better awareness on the ice, get better defensively, try to keep things on net. I need to keep things simple and not try to do too much.
The defending-champion Komets are 9-4-0 heading into Thursdays game against lowly 3-11-2 Flint at Memorial Coliseum. Its a game that, when the season began, OConnor didnt envision himself being a part of.
The native of Brownstown, Mich., signed last summer to play with Kalamazoo of the ECHL. But he was cut despite tallying one goal and two points in three games.
Its different hockey, OConnor said. Theres a younger group of guys up there, and maybe its a step quicker. But the smartness in this league, you cant really beat.
There are some guys in (the IHL) that are so smart with the puck. They just know what to do with the puck and where to go to get into open places.
Despite fielding offers from other leagues, OConnor returned to Fort Wayne because of his comfort with the organization.
Now he hopes solid play with Fort Wayne can get him another championship and maybe a shot at playing in the AHL.
Its not disappointing being here, he said. This is a great place for me to play. Im comfortable here and know the organization and the coach (Al Sims) really well.