Jordan Kremyr wasn't one of those guys who could stand to mix in a salad -- and hold the dressing -- but his need for more speed prompted the Alaska Aces forward to alter his diet in the offseason and trim weight.
Kremyr said he also made slight changes in his summer workouts -- more cardio work, a little less weight work -- to lose some bulk.
After playing at 195-200 pounds during his first two seasons with the ECHL hockey team, Kremyr said he opted in the offseason for speed over size, so long as he doesn't lose significant strength. He said he's eating more raw vegetables, grains, nuts and quinoa, and reducing how much meat he eats.
"It could be tough in the summer, at barbecues, when everyone's having a burger,'' Kremyr said Tuesday, standing in the hallway outside the team's dressing room at Sullivan Arena. "That's when you'll occasionally get off the wagon. You have to commit to it, like anything.''
Just then, Moose's Tooth pizzas arrived for post-practice consumption.
"I'll probably have a slice, or two,'' Kremyr said with a laugh.
Kremyr said he weighed 190 when he started training camp with the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat last month. He's noticeably thinner in the face. And he says he feels quicker and more energized, which should come in handy as he moves from left wing to center to start the season. The Aces entertain the San Francisco Bulls at Sullivan Arena on Friday night.
A center generally covers more ice than a winger because a center's defensive responsibility extends deeper into the defensive zone. Also, the Aces play half their games on the Olympic-sized rink at Sullivan, which is 100 feet wide, 15 feet wider than an NHL-sized rink. That places a premium on skating for everyone. So consider that Kremyr is now lugging around roughly five to eight fewer pounds, which should benefit him playing center on big ice.
"I already feel a lot faster,'' Kremyr said. "I've already found (playing center) allows me to open up my speed and get going, because you're usually starting from down low in your zone.''
Aces coach Rob Murray told Kremyr on the opening day of training camp that he was going to try him at center. Kremyr, 27, who last played center as a teenager, said he welcomed the move because he had looked at the Aces roster and decided he would be willing to play the pivot if the team was thin at center.
"I have some familiarity with it, and I'm happy to do whatever is best for the team,'' Kremyr said.
Kremyr in practice Tuesday morning centered left wing Robert Farmer and right wing Ross Ring-Jarvi on the third line. With rookie center Eli Zuck out with a lower-body injury, Murray said he likes Kremyr in the middle.
"More than anything, he's dependable down low in the defensive zone,'' Murray said. "From what I've seen, he's good on faceoffs. He's heavy on his stick, and he's sound defensively.''
In the long run, Murray said, being able to play both center and wing should enhance Kremyr's skills.
"For his development and his career -- he's not overly creative -- playing center gives you more freedom to be creative,'' Murray said. "Maybe it'll help his game overall.''
Kremyr last season furnished 4-14--18 and minus-1 totals in 45 regular-season games. As a rookie, he went 14-10--24 in 52 games, and this year he is aiming to be a double-digit goal scorer again.
As always, he'll be a principal penalty killer for the Aces.
The Aces on Tuesday released returning winger Spencer Bennett.
That move, coupled with goaltender Gerald Coleman beginning the season on the inactive list after offseason hip surgery, reduces the roster to the maximum of 23 to start the season. Each team's season-opening roster is due to the league office at 11 a.m. ADT Wednesday.
Bennett, 22, last season was acquired from ECHL Orlando in exchange for goalie James Reid. In 22 games, he went 8-6--14 and was plus-8. He played in five playoff games without a point.
Aces coach Rob Murray said Bennett didn't fit as a third-line or checking-line winger and couldn't crack the top two lines, considered the scoring lines.
"I told Spencer, if he's going to have success, he's going to need to be on the top two lines, and he doesn't fit for us there right now,'' Murray said.
Zuck didn't skate in practice Tuesday -- he worked out off the ice. He's dealing with a lower-body injury.
Meanwhile, returner Dustin Molle, a defenseman by trade who played some wing last season, practiced on the wing.
Here were the Aces' lines at practice: Evan Trupp-Nick Mazzolini-Peter Sivak; Brendan Connolly-Tim Coffman-Andy Taranto; Robert Farmer-Jordan Kremyr-Ross Ring-Jarvi; Dustin Molle-Tommy Mele-Shawn Skelly.
The Aces have eight defensemen (not counting Molle as a D) - Kane Lafranchise, Sean Curry, Corey Syvret, James Martin, Zach Davis, B.J. Crum, Ben Parker and Brad Richard.
Three goalies remain: Coleman, Mark Guggenberger and Joni Ortio. Ortio, assigned to the Aces by AHL Abbotsford, practiced with the team for the first time Tuesday.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.