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Taylor Crunk showing improvement in Komets training camp

Third-year forward Taylor Crunk has had a strong training camp so far for the Fort Wayne Komets. (By Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel)

As the Fort Wayne Komets head into their third exhibition game Monday night, Taylor Crunk knows he probably needs a good performance. He’s a true role player who is always on the bubble. Role players are always worried because their spot on the team are usually tenuous.

“I’m never going to get comfortable,” he said after getting an assist in Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Indy Fuel. “I love it here in Fort Wayne and I want to be there. I want to win here, and I’m not going to stop working until we get there.”

Except during training camp and during the first two exhibition games over the weekend, Crunk has been proving he’s expanding his game a little. After scoring one goal and four points in 42 games last year along with 120 penalty minutes, he’s proving he might be ready to skate a regular shift this season along with the regular banging and and sticking up for his teammates.

“I like him,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “He brings an element to our team that we don’t have a lot of in our forward group. That’s what he’s here to do, provide energy and drive the net. He’s playing good. Here’s a guy who came into camp a lot leaner than he has in the past and he’s a step quicker this year. Kudos to him.”

Actually, Crunk says he came back 12 pounds lighter and it’s allowed him to be more nimble and aggressively offensively and defensively. He also worked hard on his skating. If he can earn more ice time, he can be out there more looking out for teammates.

“I did a lot more cardio this summer and a lot of it comes down to the kitchen, and just being aware of what you put into your body,” he said. “I had a real busy summer taking care of my body. Once you do that regular shift night in and night out, playing time matches confidence.”

He’s been playing with Mason Baptista and Tyson Fawcett on a line where all three are hustling and trying to create opportunities for the team and themselves.

“Crunk is a perfect example of a guy who took his summer training very seriously, and you can see physically that he’s in great shape and it always translates onto the ice,” Komets captain Jamie Schaafsma said. “He looks great out there. It’s great to see him in good shape and he had a serious summer.”

Icing the puck

Graham said after Saturday’s game the Komets may make some roster moves before Monday’s 7:30 p.m. exhibition game against Kalamazoo, but it may depend on who is healthy enough to play. Several players are banged up, and the Komets signed Phil Bushbacher so they could have enough forwards to play Saturday night. He had been released by Kansas City and was on his way home to Chicago when the Komets called. … The Komets were expecting at least two forwards from their American Hockey League affiliation with Tucson, but there’s been no word yet. The Roadrunners have 15 forwards on their roster… ECHL teams are limited to 21 active players and three more spots on injured reserve for the first month. The Komets have 26 players on the roster, 12 forwards, 10 defensemen and four goaltenders… Opening-day rosters are due to the ECHL office at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

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