FORT WAYNE – It seemed inevitable that Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock would don the C as captain of the Komets. He grew up in Fort Wayne as a fan of the team and has been adored by fans for his energetic, physical style since he first put on the fireball logo-adorned jersey in 2009.
He was named captain Dec. 26 – the Komets had gone without a captain since trading Nick Tuzzolino to Elmira on Nov. 25 – and he has promised to be the same pedal-to-the-metal player weve come to know.
I am who I am and Im not going to change anything, said Schrock, whose Komets played Toledo on Tuesday night in the annual New Years Eve game at Memorial Coliseum.
Ive been the same way my entire career, with or without a letter. I just have to be the same and make sure I hold guys accountable. Im not a rah rah guy in the locker room, but Ill say things that need to be said.
Schrock, 29, has never been a prolific scorer, although he has hit 20 goals and 34 points in single seasons as a professional, but hell check, fight and be a reliable player in his own zone and in the offensive corners.
Schrock, who captained Neumann University to a Division III national championship, had been an alternate captain since his sophomore season of 2010-11.
And he learned much from Colin Chaulk, arguably the franchises greatest captain of all time, who led Fort Wayne to championships in 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
I had four years playing with him (Chaulk), and Im going to take what I learned from him and try to use that to reinforce the things that need to be reinforced, said Schrock, who had two goals, five points, 80 penalty minutes and a minus-11 rating this season.
The Komets were 11-11-5 heading into the game against Toledo (9-15-3).
But Fort Wayne had been short-handed since forwards Mickey Lang and Mike Vaskivuo left the team on Thursday.
Youve got to imagine there will be new bodies coming in. You just never know, Schrock said. We learned that from last year, and guys will come in and others will go. Its the ECHL. There is going to be a lot more movement than in the IHL or the Central League, and we just need to make sure that guys who come in, they can carry the load.
Gary Graham, in his first season as the Komets coach, has a good relationship with Schrock and believes he is ready to be captain.
It was his time, Graham said. With everything that has happened this year, we need the heart to be in the right place on this team.
Kaleigh will put the Fort Wayne Komets before his own individual wants and needs. He doesnt have a selfish bone in his body. But he loves this organization and would do anything for this organization. The guys in the locker room respect him for what his role is and what he does.
Note: The Komets signed forward Garrett Vermeesch, who had 14 goals and 27 points in 22 games with Peoria of the Southern Professional Hockey League.