FORT WAYNE – Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Jean-Michel Rizk must be fans of that seminal horror film, The Shining, because they want their forward line to be known as Redrum.
In the movie, Redrum is Murder spelled backward.
Maybe it’s sort of fitting in the sense that Schrock, Rizk and Stephon Thorne, who wear red jerseys in practice, aren’t exactly what they appear to be.
They have the least experience of any line, yet some of the most success, and they will be crucial in the Turner Conference semifinals against the Rapid City Rush, which begins tonight in South Dakota.
We just murder the other lines in practice, and obviously we take a lot of pride in playing against the other teams’ top lines, Schrock said. And, we’ve all chipped in offensively and that makes what we’ve been doing fun.
Schrock, in his third season with the Komets, has 12 goals, 34 points and a plus-26 rating in 66 games. Thorne, a rookie, has 11 goals, 32 points and a plus-19 rating in 64 games. Rizk, also a rookie, has 20 goals, 31 points and a plus-11 rating in 55 games.
The primary role of the line is to bring energy by checking, to shut down top opposing forwards and, if possible, contribute a bit of offense. They’ve done a surprising amount of the latter, getting nine goals over the last 10 games.
Our primary role is to play defense, Thorne said. You can tell by our plus-minuses that playing defense is our main goal. But I think (there are) points on our line; like, most third lines don’t have 30 points from all three guys. So I guess we’ve kind of focused on getting the puck (into the offensive zone) deep and doing the little things right and see what happens when you keep playing the game.
Though the Komets (40-19-7) are the top seed in the Turner Conference, there is an unusual 2-3-1-1 format to the series because Disney on Ice is at Memorial Coliseum this weekend.
Playing the first two games at Rapid City (38-22-6) will limit the Komets’ ability to match forward lines, since the home team gets the final line change before every drop of the puck.
The line of Schrock, Rizk and Thorne may not get the opportunity to face Rapid City’s best scorers – Konrad Reeder (37 goals, 82 points) and Shawn Limpright (28 goals, 81 points) – until Game 3 at the Coliseum on Wednesday.
We’ve got to make sure we don’t try to do too much, Schrock said.
That’s what gets us into trouble. But Thorne and Rizk are rookies who play like veterans, and it’s going to be fun to watch them progress in the playoffs.
Since Schrock and Thorne like to go into the corners to check, it’s important they never get caught deep with the puck going the other direction.
When we don’t talk, we can be average, Schrock said. But when we do talk, we can be tough to play against. All three of us work hard, and we enjoy and take pride in playing in the defensive zone. When we get the puck out of the defensive zone, we can attack it pretty well.
Last year, the Komets took the Rush the maximum five games before losing in the conference semifinals. But in the regular season, Fort Wayne won 4 of 5 meetings. The Rush were decimated by injuries in those games, the last of which was Dec. 3, and the Komets are expecting things to be tougher now.
The Redrum line will have to be scary for Fort Wayne to win.
We really work well together, Thorne said.
We’re always talking to each other. That’s what really helps us. We’re always talking, we’re always figuring out what we can do better and what we can’t do. That’s the reason why I think we’re doing so well.