The Komets have had a vise-grip hold on the Turner Cup for two years. As the Port Huron Icehawks try to loosen their embrace, the Komets aren’t budging yet.
Not even close.
Down two goals in Game 5 and trailing 3-1 in the IHL semifinals, the Komets unleashed an offensive assault on rookie goaltender Raffaele D’Orso, scoring seven unanswered goals and defeating the Icehawks 7-2 in front of 7,091 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
Could history be repeating itself? Maybe.
In the 2008 finals, the Komets trailed the Icehawks 3-1 before rattling off three straight victories to claim the Turner Cup, guided by the brilliance of goaltender of Nick Boucher.
That’s one victory down, two more to go.
Our team worked hard. We were down 2-0 and it would have been easy to throw in the towel and call it a year, Komets coach Al Sims said.
But we’ve got the heart of a champion and we showed it tonight.
Port Huron’s early goals came from Derek Patrosso and Mickael Bedard, both after the Komets coughed up the puck in their own zone. Boucher stopped 32 of 34 shots, including a breakaway by Patrosso that could have put the game out of reach in the second period.
We’ve been through all these battles before, Boucher said. We tend to just not panic. We’ve been on either side of these games. I hate to keep going back to it, but the experience helps you at times like this. It doesn’t help you when you’re up or things are going great. But when things are going bad, the experience, the years of going through the battles and being in the playoffs, it comes into play.
While Boucher was flipping, flopping and finessing his way to the Komets’ first victory since Game 1, he was aided by the team’s finest offensive performance of the series.
Forwards Justin Chwedoruk, David Hukalo, Leo Thomas and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, who had combined for only two assists in the series’ first four games, exploded for three goals and eight points on D’Orso, who was playing for the injured Larry Sterling and stopped 32 of 39 shots.
It was a great team effort, especially after we went down 2-0, Chwedoruk said. Nobody had any quit. A lot of guys might fold in that situation, but every guy in here came out and had a big rest of the game. We got seven unanswered goals because of it.
The Komets began their onslaught 7:50 into the second period, when Thomas’ pass from behind the Port Huron net set up a Hukalo goal. A Schrock pass from the left corner led to Matt Syroczynski’s one-timer goal at 18:52.
The Komets began the third period on a power play, thanks to a hooking penalty on Peter Flache, and Fort Wayne center Colin Chaulk took advantage of a Daniel Tetrault turnover to score into an open net 50 seconds into the frame.
Chwedoruk scored on a breakaway, Syroczynski on a redirection, Chwedoruk with a slapshot from the right circle and Sean O’Connor off a rebound to complete the rally.
It’s tough not to get down, Syroczynski said of the early deficit, but you’ve got to regroup and we did a good job of that. Once we got that first goal, and the crowd got behind us, we tied it and then it snowballed from there.
And the news gets better for the Komets, who play tonight at McMorran Arena: 2008 Playoff MVP Justin Hodgman, a center who has three goals and six points in three playoff games, will be back in the lineup after serving his two-game suspension for slashing Nick Lindberg.