The strides hockey players have to make to get into shape go from preseason skating to training camp to exhibition games to regular-season games. There's a remarkable difference to each level, and preseason skating is where the Komets start to pop the clutch.
A group of about 12 former, current and possibly even future Komets has been skating for two weeks at Lutheran Health SportsCenter. Training camp starts Oct. 6 with an immediate scrimmage, and everyone is building now to make a good impression.
"This is mainly conditioning and getting a feel for your hands,'' Komets forward Chris Auger said. "It's nothing like anything we should be expecting at training camp. Training camp will be a lot more up-tempo with a lot more guys. This is just helpful for the guys who are around.''
As Kaleigh Schrock said, anyone can work out all summer in the weight room, but there's really no lifting that is going to train skating muscles.
"Guys have new equipment they are trying to break in and get their legs going,'' Schrock said. "There are a few things you try to work on and get better at during the drills, but it's not like it's simulating training camp.''
It's better than nothing. Auger, Schrock, John Dunbar, Jeremy Gates and Brandon Marino are the returning Komets who have been working out. Forward Matt Firman had been skating until he left recently to compete in training camp with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.
Former Komets J.M. Rizk, Leo Thomas, Brandon Warner and Tyler Butler have been skating, as have Fort Wayne natives Cody Hess and Larkin Saalfrank who will leave soon for tryouts in Class A pro hockey. New Komet Scott Fleming has also been making a strong start.
Mostly, the players work on drills and scrimmage three-on-three across the width of the ice to keep up the tempo and work in close proximity for stickhandling.
Most of the players have been skating this summer at home before coming to Fort Wayne. Maybe they were skating with NHL, AHL or college players who have left already for training camp or school.
"It's a lot better than sitting home watching TV,'' Marino said. "I could have sat around home for two weeks, but I'd have been skating by myself, and this makes a lot more sense to be here. You get a little bit of camaraderie going. It's been very beneficial.''
Still, every player knows they are going to feel the strain the first day of training camp no matter what they do now. Then the first exhibition game is Oct. 9 at Wheeling.
"Everyone is from different places, and everyone has different levels of hockey available to them,'' Gates said. "This is a good chance to get on the ice with guys who are more of the same skill level and iron out your bad habits you might have picked up over the summer.''
Komets add defenseman to roster
The Komets announced Thursday they have invited defenseman William Lacasse, 26, to join their training camp roster. Lacasse will be entering his second pro year after making his debut last season in ECHL stints with Greenville, Idaho and San Francisco. He scored two goals and five points in 26 games and also skated 26 games with Augusta of the Southern Professional Hockey League, scoring five goals and 14 points.