Tailing the Komets: Kaleigh Schrock suits up one more time
After opening the Parkview Ice House at 6 a.m. Saturday, former Komet Kaleigh Schrock got a phone call from Brampton coach and former teammate Colin Chaulk. Schrock figured Chaulk wanted to talk about an annual summer clinic he hosts at the Ice House.
“So, Balboa, you want to suit up in Kalamazoo tonight?” Chaulk asked.
The Beast had just lost two forwards to American Hockey League call-up and were down to eight forwards.
“If it was anybody but Chaulker I probably would have turned it down, but I’d jump off a cliff for that guy,” Schrock said. “It wasn’t hard for me to say yes.”
As the director of athletic development and coach of the Summit City Panthers club hockey team, Schrock, 33, is on the ice almost every day, but that’s not the same as playing in a professional game. He hadn’t played in a pro game since retiring from the Komets at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Schrock wore No. 22, his Neumann College number, on his jersey. When he skated out for warmups, he saw a little boy in the stands with a sign that said, “Schrocky, is that a stick or a cane?” It was Carter Schoegler, son of Parkview Sports Medicine Director Tommy Schoegler.
Schrock said he played five or six shifts in the first period, managed a shot on goal off a deflection and even took a check into the boards from Wings defenseman Charlie Vasaturo that Schrock said left part of his shoulder embedded.
After the first period, referee Tyler Puddifant realized Schrock’s name had been left off the gamesheet so he was disqualified from playing the rest of the night.
“I went back into the locker room after the first period and went into a slight coma,” Schrock said. “My legs felt like lead, but I had a blast.”
The best parts, he said, were sitting next to former Komets teammate Brandon Marino in the locker room and getting to see Chaulk work as a coach.
“Once I saw the jersey I kind of got goose bumps,” Schrock said. “It was a little emotional. I really miss this. This is so much fun. You don’t want to overthink and I didn’t want to screw it up for anybody else. I really wanted to help them get their first won and unfortunately it didn’t happen.
“What was neat about Chaulker is how thorough he is and so detailed in his approached to the game. I was really impressed. I’m glad he’s doing well and the guys there really respect him. It was fun to experience him as a coach, and seeing him in that actual role was everything I expected.”
The Wings won the game 5-2.
A couple of Schrock’s high school players went up to watch him play, as did some family members. Asked what he’ll tell his players, Schrock said, “If I can come out of retirement and work my butt off for six shifts and feel like I have lead in my legs, then I know you guys can do it when you are 15 and 16.”
The Beast and Wings have a rematch today in Brampton, but Chaulk already has reinforcements lined up so Schrock came home after the game. Schrock said it’s doubtful he’ll ever sign up for emergency duty again — unless Chaulk needs help again.
“After not paying hockey for two years, I just felt like he had confidence in me out there and he really had no business feeling that way when 22 was on the ice,” Schrock said with a laugh. “I didn’t think I’d ever do this again, but it was a lot of fun.”