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Schrock's fight inspires Komets to road win

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Second-period tussle fires up teammates against Toledo

Saturday, January 11, 2014 - 4:45 am

TOLEDO, Oh. – Anyone wondering why the offensively challenged Kaleigh Schrock is the captain of the Fort Wayne Komets should have seen his impact on Friday's game. Schrock only played about half of it, but his effort was the deciding factor according to everyone in the locker room.

The Komets were leading Toledo 2-1 in the second period Friday night when Schrock and Walleye forward Emerson Clark battled in an epic fight, throwing haymakers and bombs for a solid 45 seconds before exhausting themselves.

The slugfest inspired the Komets who all stood and cheered as Schrock skated toward the penalty box, and then started tapping their sticks on the dasher board as he was then was escorted toward the dressing room for some work on a cut below his left eye.

``That was the tipping point of the game,'' Komets goaltender Ben Meisner said after a 3-2 Fort Wayne win. ``That really gave us the momentum and carried us through. Schrocky is our leader and our go-to guy, and we look to him when we need a spark. When you see someone like that go to the wall for you, guys respond.''

The fight typified an excellent effort for the Komets who matched the Walleye check for check, blocked shot for blocked shot and extra effort for extra effort. When the game ended, players from both sides were on their knees gasping for breath.

``I can't really recall too many games this year after a loss when I felt happy with our effort, and tonight was one of those nights,'' Toledo coach Nick Vitucci said. ``I was proud of the way they battled right to the end.''

According to a Toledo statistician, the hits were frequent and pretty much equal on the night, but the Komets won most of the battles along the boards and just enough in front of the nets. Chris Auger scored on a power play to tie the game 1-1 early in the second, and then Christian Ouellet scored his second goal in two games as a Komet on an odd tip of a rebound in front.

After Schrock's fight with Clark jacked everyone up, Jace Coyle ripped a slap shot across the crease from 25 feet to catch the far corner for a 3-1 lead. Toledo scored a fluky goal on Meisner with about six minutes remaining, but the Komets never let the Walleye get another solid scoring chance.

``There was a lot of sacrifice out there,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``Kaleigh had a big fight for us and that's what swung the momentum for us. Guys were fired up and that's what his role is. We were feeding off that, and that's why he's so effective for us.''

Schrock had quite a shiner after the game. The eye needed some glue to close the cut, and it's probably swollen shut today.

``It was great to get two points, finally,'' Schrock said. ``We've had too many close games where we're not getting two points, but we found a way to execute and get it done on the road.''

But why was this game so much more physical?

``We know on the road we have to keep it simple,'' Schrock said. ``When you chip the puck in, there's more of an opportunity to be physical and at home with the bigger ice surface sometimes we try to make plays and it's harder to be physical with that style. We need to learn from that.''

The win gives the Komets points and a 3-0-2 record over the last five games heading into a home-and-home series with Kalamazoo starting tonight in Michigan. They are also three games over .500 for the first time all season.

``We need to play that kind of desperate hockey more the rest of the season,'' leading scorer Brandon Marino said. ``We need to make a push and get ourselves higher in the standings.''