DALLAS — Each morning, Rob Schremp takes the ice before the rest of his Islanders teammates and puts on a little show.
With the rink to himself, Schremp turns the the frozen surface into a stage and puts his elite hands and skill on display. Whether he’s routinely bouncing the puck on his blade while twirling around, balancing it while throwing his stick over his shoulder and back again, inventing new stick-handling moves to use in the shootout, or snapping a puck into the net from the opposite goal line, Schremp unabashedly loves to show off.
If there are any stray onlookers, he’ll quickly turn them into revelers by playfully mugging or lofting a puck over the boards for a kid watching from behind the glass. But, even if there is nobody around, it doesn’t matter.
“He’s a kid that just loves to play and is always trying something new,” coach Scott Gordon said. “It doesn’t happen by accident.”
That’s why it was no surprise when Schremp delivered the true sparkler of the team’s 3-2 win over Colorado Wednesday night. Schremp broke a 1-1 tie as he snatched a puck out of mid-air with his hand, gripped his stick Louisville Slugger-style and batted it in for a second-period power-play goal that simply dropped jaws and left fans dazzled.
“All those people call me a hot dog,” Shremp joked, “but if I didn’t spend all that time working on my hand-eye [coordination] I would have never scored that goal.”
All that extra time and hard work has recently paid dividends for Schremp. He has four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in his last three games and has established himself as a go-to guy in the shootout, where he is 3-for-5, including last week’s game-winner against Columbus.
Schremp had trouble remaining in the lineup earlier this year—he was the healthy scratch for 22 of the team’s first 30 games this season—but never let his attitude plummet. Instead of sulking, Schremp remained upbeat, endearing himself to his teammates with his effort, not to mention his contagious, almost child-like enthusiasm for the game.
Now his recent production, coupled with his increased ice time and opportunities, has given him an ample boost.
“You have this image of NHL goalies like they’re the best in the world and impossible to beat. Once you put a few goals past them, your confidence builds,” Schremp said. “I feel like I can beat goalies. I know I can beat goalies. I’ve done it before in the AHL and Juniors. I’ve just got to keep doing it.”
If he can, Gordon is confident he can be a crucial component to the team’s offensive attack throughout the season.
“if you’re not around watching every day, you may not see the ability he has with his hands,” Gordon said. “Now, hopefully he’ll continue the success he’s having recently. He can be a key guy for us.”