The Journal Gazette
Friday, March 20, 2020 1:00 am

High-scoring city native carried Spacemen

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

When Jared Fisher gets the puck within 10 or 20 feet of the net, odds are he's going to score.

And if Fisher should get a full-on breakaway?

“You can just count it. That's how good he is,” said his coach, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock.

The Fort Wayne Spacemen recently completed their inaugural season of junior hockey, and Schrock admitted having Fisher was a luxury because his offensively charged game helped hide some of the flaws any fledgling team endures.

“He definitely put the team on his back during the season,” Schrock said.

Fisher set records in goals (57) and points (104) in just 43 games for the Spacemen of the United States Premier Hockey League, then helped them reach the second round of the playoffs.

“I knew we were capable of having a great year,” said Fisher, whose team was 21-19-3 in the premier division of USPHL play. “I just didn't know if it would come together as well as it did. I was pleasantly surprised by it all.”

The Spacemen swept the Detroit Fighting Irish in a best-of-three first-round series, then lost to the Chicago Cougars in three games – all on the road.

Few could have predicted the season Fisher, a native of Fort Wayne, would have after he totaled nine goals and 16 points in 25 games last season for the Jersey Shore Whalers and the Skipjacks Hockey Club's 18-and-under team.

Schrock, a former Komets captain, had been familiar with Fisher's game from seeing him train at the SportONE/Parkview Icehouse in the offseasons. Signing Fisher last summer to play with the Spacemen helped encourage other players, such as Toms Barens, to join Fort Wayne's roster.

“When you've got two months to recruit a full roster on a first-year expansion team, there's not a lot of kids who believe what you're doing. To get a kid like (Fisher) who has connections out on the East Coast was absolutely huge,” Schrock said.

Fisher, 19, had left Fort Wayne just two weeks into his freshman year at Snider to improve his hockey playing and wound up with teams in locales such as Odenton, Maryland; York, Pennsylvania; Toms River, New Jersey; and Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

“It's been wild, but it's been good,” Fisher said. “It's helped me a lot to grow as a person, so I appreciate it from all of them.”

Sports are in his genes. His father is Jay Edwards, who shared the high school Mr. Basketball title with Marion teammate Lyndon Jones in 1987; went on to play at Indiana University; was a second-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in 1989, though he played only four NBA games; and played for the Fort Wayne Fury of the Continental Basketball Association.

Fisher, however, was raised by his mother, Amy, in Fort Wayne.

“He's a centerman. He's very skilled,” Schrock said of the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Fisher. “He's kind of lanky. He's very shifty; he finds a way to knife through the defense. He's very good when he has the puck and has a chance to get his feet going through the neutral zone. He's very dangerous off the rush.

“I think a big part of his game that he'll need to work on to play at a higher level is the defensive side, obviously, and put on some weight to be a little tougher to play against in the corners. But as far as a skill set, he can score goals. He has a knack for just around the net. He's unlike any kid I've seen at our level in our league.”

Logan Robins was second on Fort Wayne with 24 goals. Kevin Lapointe was second in points with 62.

“My game improved tremendously,” said Fisher, who scored four goals in four games and had three games with seven or more points. “It was really fun, obviously, and I enjoyed the personal success, but I was more happy with our team's success and the way we grew as a team. This group of guys will help the team in the future by showing we've got a legit program.”

Fisher, who has ruled out playing college hockey this year, has another year of junior eligibility. He could explore skating at a higher level, but he's comfortable with the Spacemen and may stick around.

“I'm kind of waiting to see what kind of pieces we can bring to this team next year,” Fisher said. “If I feel this team, next year, has a good shot of making a very deep run at the national tournament then I will strongly consider returning.”

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