Jake Kamrass set the bar high during his rookie season – he was among the Komets' leading scorers and one of the top first-year players in the ECHL – but he's hungry for more.
“Obviously, each and every year, you want to get better,” said Kamrass, who re-signed with the Komets on Monday. “I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, but I've been working hard this summer and if I apply all of that to my game, maybe I can elevate to another level and bring more to the table this year.”
The Komets also signed Justin Levac, a forward with impressive numbers from the Single-A Southern Professional and Federal Hockey Leagues.
But the return of Kamrass, who was in the conversation for team MVP last season, an honor that went to former captain Jamie Schaafsma, was the news of the day.
Kamrass said he knew he wanted to come back as soon as Ben Boudreau got the Fort Wayne head coaching job May 30, though he had to weigh his opportunities in the American Hockey League. Kamrass will go to training camp with the Charlotte Checkers, who won the Calder Cup against the Chicago Wolves, the team one step above Fort Wayne in the Vegas Golden Knights' minor league system.
Kamrass, 24, had 17 goals and 51 points in 57 games with Fort Wayne, which had acquired him from South Carolina early last season for Garret Ross – a deal that enabled the Komets to bring back the ECHL's 2018 leading scorer and MVP, Shawn Szydlowski, from Europe.
Kamrass had already accrued five goals and eight points in 10 games with South Carolina last season, his first full campaign out of UMass-Lowell, and his eventual 59 combined points tied him for fifth among all ECHL rookies in scoring. He wound up seven points back of the leading rookie scorer, Cincinnati's Myles Powell.
Kamrass won the Komets' Rookie of the Year award, was the only Fort Wayne player with a hat trick, had a 12-game point-scoring streak on Memorial Coliseum ice, and went on to score one goal in the six-game playoff loss to the Toledo Walleye.
The Komets' roster has 17 players, including 11 forwards, five defensemen and goaltender Stephen Dhillon. The returning players include forwards Szydlowski, Kamrass, Brady Shaw, Anthony Petruzzelli and Gage Torrel, and defensemen Chase Stewart and Jason Binkley.
“That was one of the things that (general manager David Franke) and Benny wanted to go after: having a good, solid, core young group of guys. That will be very good coming back into the season because we'll be hungry,” Kamrass said.
Levac, 30, skated 41 SPHL games last season with the Macon Mayhem, totaling four goals and 25 points. In 2017-18 with the FHL's Danville Dashers, he had 13 goals and 70 points in 44 games and was named the league's Forward of the Year. He hasn't played in the ECHL since 2012-13, when he had two goals and six points in 17 games for the Orlando Solar Bears.