So this why Al Sims wears the whistle, and I wear well, not a whistle.
Thursday night, Port Huron in town for a resumption of the usual playoff hostilities, and what am I thinking?
I’m thinking it’s Game 1, so it’s got to be the guy with the two rings between the pipes.
I’m thinking it’s the guy who owns April and May the way Bill Gates owns Microsoft. I’m thinking it’s the playoff veteran. I’m thinking it’s Nick Boucher, with his two Turners Cups and his 13-5 playoff record and his 1.75 goals-against last spring.
What I’m not thinking is this: You dance with who brung you this time of year.
And so the curtain went up on the quest for the three-peat, and it was Tim Haun down there because, first of all, no one in the IHL is better at his job. And, second of all, he and Boucher have split time all year, Haun going 27-11-2 with a 2.12 goals-against average and Boucher going 23-10-3 with a 2.49 goals-against.
So here was Haun and here were the Icehawks, throwing bodies into his crease like grenades. They put 27 pucks on him, 14 in the last period. Banged on his door right until the final 13 seconds, when the Icehawks won one last draw in the Komets’ end and then threw it back out of the zone with a sloppy pass.
Wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. Haun was Haun – which is to say, unflappable, unruffle-able, and also a winner.
Score it Komets 4, Port Huron 2, and what the heck do I know.
I thought Timmy was the goalie of the year tonight, Sims said.
And also: I thought he played the way we expected him to play, two goals or less and gives us a chance to win.
And also: I thought especially at the end, the last few minutes, the way he covered rebounds and held things to his body. It was amazing the way he found the puck.
And never lost his equilibrium, which has become a Haun trademark. Crash his net? Get into his kitchen? Get in his grill, on the off chance you can also get past his grill and into his head?
That’s playoff hockey, Haun said, with the next thing to a shrug. It’s to be expected, guys going hard to the net. We do it as well as they do it, and that’s playoff hockey, going hard to the net.
I think they thought they could intimidate him by being physical with him, Sims said.
Instead, when the Icehawks finally got a puck behind him 6:43 into the second, and Derek Patrosso of the Icehawks invaded Haun’s, um, personal space at the same time, Haun responded with a shove and stick to the chops of a guy two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier.
He drew two for a high stick, but he also drew the line.
A bit more than 33 minutes later, both he and the Komets were walking away 1-0 in the playoffs – and Sims was announcing that Boucher, who’s 14-2 lifetime in that phone booth called McMorran Arena, would draw the start there in Game 2.
Because this is how they’ve done it all year.
Because it delivered 50 victories and 105 points during the regular season.
Because well, what other because do you need?
We can both do the job, we’re both confident out there and the defense is confident with us, Haun said. I mean, anytime you’ve got two goalies that can do the job, that just makes your team that much better game in, game out. Only good things can come of it.