Training camp for rookies is all about getting used to the pace of play so they can increase their own tempo in time for the exhibition games. Then the regular-season games are even faster than the exhibition games.
Larkin Saalfrank is trying to have the time of his life in the Komets' training camp by attempting to slow down the rest of his life. The Fort Wayne native is taking part in his first pro training camp, but that means he's had to rearrange his work schedule, his class schedule and his time in nets for the IPFW club hockey team.
``It's been pretty difficult,'' Saalfrank said. ``IPFW opened up this past weekend so I've been juggling things around them. It's kind of hard with the mindset, the timing, the releases and the shots and everything. The preseason skates beforehand helped me in getting used to things, but it's hard to adjust in a short period of time. I think as the week goes on I'll be able to adjust a lot better.''
Last Friday night, Saalfrank was in goal for IPFW as the team beat Lansing Community College 9-4. Then he asked his coach, former Komet Doug Rigler, for a week off to concentrate on the Komets' training camp. He also asked his boss, Ed Black, for time off running the warehouse at Action Environmental. Saalfrank will have to get some help with notes on a couple of his classes.
Because he's living with Komets forward Kaleigh Schrock, Saalfrank is already a pro in one fashion, handling all the needling he gets from the veterans.
Saalfrank served as an emergency back-up goaltender for the Komets during a game last March in Dayton because Nick Boucher was sick. Throughout the preseason, he skated with the Komets during informal workouts and kept pace with the IPFW practices.
``Pretty much everything is different, the speed of the guys, positioning, the shots, the releases, the accuracy,'' Saalfrank said. ``Top to bottom, it's a lot different. It takes a couple of practices before I can get it down.''
And how will this help him when he goes back to the IPFW team?
``I think in the long run I'll improve more and when we face those top teams, I'll already be one step ahead of everybody else and be able to react quicker to those quicker and more accurate shots.''
Camp heads into its third full day with two morning practices and another afternoon scrimmage at Memorial Coliseum. So far, no one looks out of place, but everyone's legs are still fresh.
``I thought there was a good pace going for an hour with only 12 guys on each side,'' Komets coach Al Sims said.
``Most of these guys came in real good shape. Some guys were breathing hard yesterday, and we can notice it, but for the most part the young kids came in real good shape, and you can tell.''
Icing the puck
Forward Stephon Thorne did not skate Sunday because he was ill... Forward Chris Auger has a lower-body injury, General Manager David Franke said, which means he's already headed back from camp with Norfolk of the American Hockey League... Scoring goals in the scrimmage were Brayden Metz, John Dunbar, Pat Knowlton, Mark Hoban and J.P. Chabot scored twice... The young defensemen all looked solid, maybe better than expected considering their lack of experience. Of the rookies, Kyle Atkins is great with the puck, always calm and makes great passes, Scott Kishel is extremely good in all areas and Nicolas Thommen is huge and plays like it, hitting and blocking shots, and also skates better than most big guys. Dan Nycholat struggled right at the start with nerves, but then settled down and played a nice game... Left wing John Dunbar is amazingly quick and a great puckhandler to highlight the forwards... Right wing Matt Firman showed he knows how to use his size in front of the net... Chabot blocked a couple of shots after he scored the two goals... Linus Werneman has a nice shot with a quick release... Among the goalies, Gerry Festa looked like the best, and Fracois Lacerte and Larkin Saalfrank looked solid... It was a very wide-open game with everybody running around trying to make plays.