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Evansville at Komets
Face-off: 5 p.m.
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
There's a story behind Kaleigh Schrock's name, which is appropriate as today is St. Patrick's Day.
His father is Amish/Mennonite and his mother is from an Irish Catholic family. After much discussion, his parents decided to pick Lincoln as his first name and then try for an Irish middle name. They found the Irish Gaelic Caligh, which means ``Warrior and Doubly Gifted,'' which they Americanized. When his sister started calling the baby by his middle name, it stuck.
So, how appropriate was it the Komets were chanting ``O'Schrocky! O'Schrocky! O'Schrocky!'' after their teammate with the most-Irish scored a hat trick in regulation and then the game-winning goal in the shootout of a 4-3 win over Greenville? The team was also wearing special green-themed jerseys.
The Komets have been struggling to score for months and have desperately needed anyone to step up and carry the team offensively, if only one for one game. Schrock has struggled more than most of the Fort Wayne forwards with only six goals in the first 61 games after scoring 20, 15 and 12 during his first three professional seasons.
``I've really tried to put pucks on net, and there's no doubt that the goalies in this league are a lot better,'' Schrock said. ``Finally tonight, I found the back of the net fortunately.''
Maybe there was a little bit of luck of the Irish involved, thanks to the play of linemates Garrett O'Klotz and Nick O'Wheeler who worked hard all night to set up Schrock with scoring chances.
The first goal came from the slot after Klotz and Wheeler forced a turnover, and Schrock lifted a wrist shot over the shoulder of Greenville goaltender Scott Stajcer 1:46 after the opening faceoff. The second came after Brandon Marino popped the puck loose near the boards next to the blueline, and Schrock turned and rifled another wrist shot that found the corner of the net 50 feet away.
The third goal came during the second period and gave the Komets a 3-1 lead. It was Schrock's second career hat trick, and much like the night's first goal, it came from the slot. This time the puck slid along the ice through Stajcer's pads.
``I think he missed the goalie with most of his shots tonight,'' Komets coach Al Sims said when asked the difference. ``Usually, he hits him right in the crest. It was great for Kaleigh, a great night for him.''
Even though Greenville rallied with two goals in the third period to force overtime, it was also a great night for the Komets and 8,710 Memorial Coliseum fans. Schrock got his team started with a goal in the shootout, and then Jamie Milam clinched the victory with another.
The win really doesn't help the Komets' playoff chances much because Toledo beat Wheeling 3-1. The Walleye continue to lead Fort Wayne by 10 points with seven games remaining in the schedule, and the Komets' tragic number for being eliminated is down to four points heading into today's game against Evansville.
There's really not a whole lot left to play for but pride.
``I think we've already done our evaluations, regardless how the guys do in the last seven, eight games here,'' Sims said. ``You've got to show a lot of character to keep playing hard when you're almost out of it. We have to win out to give ourselves an opportunity, and I think the guys are playing that way.''
Schrock thinks there's plenty to play for.
``We all love playing this game,'' he said. ``We're all very fortunate that we get to do what we love and play a game for a living. It could be a lot worse for everybody individually. We have to forget about where we are in the standings and realize we get to do something we love and we still have a lot of support from our fans. They are paying to watch us play and we owe it to them to work hard. This is a blue-collar town and I feel like if we work hard the rest of the way, good things can still happen.''
Maybe that's just his Irish optimism.