Taking Liberties With… Taylor Crunk
Position: Forward, Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL)
Hometown: San Jacinto
Last Amateur Teams: Victoria Royals, Vancouver Giants (Western Hockey League)
Youth Teams: Inland Valley Wild, LA Hockey Club, San Diego Jr. Gulls, California Titans
California Rubber: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Taylor Crunk: Winning that national championship my last year of Pee Wees with the LA Selects (in 2008), especially because we beat (Detroit) Honeybaked in the final. That’s the biggest championship I’ve won in my career. Look at all the guys on that ’95 team who are still doing things.
CR: What is your favorite memory in the game since leaving California?
TC: I think my four seasons in Victoria as a whole. I got there when I was 16, and moving away from home and getting set up with a billet family, there was a culture change. The transformation I went through from then until the time I was 20, it was a world of difference. I was truly blessed to experience that. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I hope to go back some day.
CR: Who have been the biggest influences on you on and off the ice?
TC: My mom and dad (Lachelle and Steve). The sacrifices they made for me, making those hour-and-a-half, two-hour drives to get me to practice and games, which got where I’m at now.
CR: What advice would you give young hockey players?
TC: No matter where you are in the lineup or however many points you have, keep working until you get where you want to be. My goal is to make it as far as I can. Right now, I’m in the ECHL and I feel extremely blessed to be here. I’m not going to stop working until I get there.
CR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play?
TC: I played a lot of basketball growing up. I love playing in the street or in the gym. I got away from it for a few years. We’ve got a few guys here who like to play, so we’ll shoot some hoops.
CR: Are there are any pieces of gear you’re particular about?
TC: I’m not too particular at all. I just put gear on right to left. When I tape my knob, I leave that knob job on until the stick breaks.
CR: What is your travel like in the ECHL?
TC: There is quite a bit of travel, but nothing too bad. Those three games in three nights can get a little tricky. For example, earlier this season, we had a home game and then we had a six-hour ride to Quad Cities, then we bussed back to Toledo for a Sunday game. It can get a little hectic. You’ve got to make sure you take care of the body and be a professional about it.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
TC: I love poke places – that’s my new go-to. I’ve always loved my Mexican food, too. I’ve been in Canada and now in the Midwest, so when I go home, I go straight to a Mexican joint.
CR: You’ve had a range of experiences in hockey. How does Fort Wayne compare to those?
TC: We get treated extremely well here in Fort Wayne. The city loves us. Everyone who plays here loves it. There’s a good vibe here.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
TC: I was always a big Ziggy Palffy fan growing up. When I got my first hat trick in roller hockey, my dad said he’d get me a Ziggy Palffy jersey. I found it this summer. The Kings were my favorite team.
CR: What is the most challenging aspect of playing pro hockey?
TC: At times it can be a little frustrating when you have that many guys getting called up or sent down. It’s expected at this level. It’s a business. No matter how you’re playing, you’ve always got to be prepared for it. Keep digging. It’s out of your control. The only thing you can control is your work ethic.
Statistics really aren’t my game. My primary roles have been to play a hard-nosed heavy, gritty game, which can at times lead to a fight. In my professional career I’ve had to do that. I have worked a lot on different skill techniques, to be able to handle the puck that much better or make the extra move – it’s imperative to have those in your toolbox. In my younger days, using my hands and speed was a big part of my game.
– Compiled by Chris Bayee
(March 12, 2018)