FORT WAYNE – It all started with a fight.
Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock took a blow, buckled to his knees, looked done for, then got up and unleashed a flurry of punches to the face of Arizona’s Samuel Grenache on Nov. 19.
Later in the game, Schrock scored.
And he’s kept on punching and scoring since, signaling a return to form for the 26-year-old native of Fort Wayne, who was selected as the Komets’ Rookie of the Year last season but looked a little out of sorts the first nine games of this season.
What caused Schrock’s early funk? It was a simple case of a player trying to do too much. After scoring 20 goals last season, almost happenstance for a gritty defensive-minded player, he felt as if he had to go play like a sniper instead of a hustler.
Yeah, I think I got away from just playing hard and with energy at the beginning of the year, Schrock said. I think I’ve got to play that way to be successful and to score goals. I scored 20 last year, and my mindset was that I had to put the puck in the net, instead of just going out there and being aggressive and pissing guys off. Now that I’m doing that, the goal-scoring is coming.
Since dismantling Grenache, Schrock has five goals, an assist and two fights, including a hat trick in Saturday’s 5-4 victory over Quad City, which was 5-8-3 Fort Wayne’s third straight victory.
He looks more like the player he was last season, Komets coach Al Sims said. (Saturday) was a classic clinic of how to get in the crease and bounce (pucks) off your chest and off your stick, every which way.
Schrock can be forgiven for feeling a lot of pressure as the Komets, fresh off three championships in the IHL, moved to the Central Hockey League. He was deemed the prototypical player Fort Wayne would need in the younger, faster CHL, and the Komets made him an assistant captain, along with P.C. Drouin, under captain Guy Dupuis.
We need representation for the young guys in the room. We’ve always had the older guys with the A’s (alternate captains) and the C’s (captains), said Sims, whose Komets host Bloomington on Friday. The young guys are afraid to say anything in the room with the older guys having all the letters.
So we tried to pick a younger guy who was a captain in college, like Kaleigh (was at Neumann University), and had some leadership qualities and wanted the letter. A lot of young guys don’t want it. So far, from what we’ve heard from the room, he’s done a good job.
Schrock, who attended training camp with the higher-level American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears this fall, said he welcomes the expectations.
I like feeling a little pressure. I like a sense of anxiousness, he said. During training camp, I always feel like I have to earn my spot on the team, and I like that feeling because I think that’s what gets me going.
But Schrock knew he needed to get back to what he does best – checking, playing defense, fighting – to find the success he has enjoyed lately.
I think it was more my mindset coming in, thinking, I’ve got to score now.’ That’s the wrong thing for me to think, he said. I made the team last year by working hard and playing well defensively. That’s what I’ve got to stick with to be successful.
In other team developments, the Central Hockey League announced Monday that Komets defenseman Frankie DeAngelis has been named the Oakley Central Hockey League Player of the Week for the period ending Sunday.