Moving to the CHL this season wasn’t good for the Komets’ goaltenders’ trophy cases or for their statistics.
For the first time since the Komets were in the UHL in 2006, they didn’t have a goaltender win their league’s Goaltender of the Year award.
And Nick Boucher’s and Kevin Reiter’s numbers were worse than all their previous stints with Fort Wayne.
Boucher went 18-15-6 with a 2.96 goals-against average. In three previous seasons with Fort Wayne, he never finished with fewer than 24 victories or a GAA higher than 2.49.
Reiter was 13-12-2 with a 2.92 GAA this season. In his previous season with Fort Wayne, 2007-08, he was 32-10-4 with a 2.34 GAA.
But heading into the Turner Conference quarterfinals, which begin Saturday at Bloomington, Ill., Fort Wayne coach Al Sims is confident in his tandem. Boucher backstopped the Komets to victories in the last three IHL finals, and Reiter has a championship ring, too.
Boucher’s reputation is that of a pressure goalie, since he led the Komets back from 3-1 series deficit against Port Huron in the 2008 finals and the 2010 semifinals.
Those guys have been there and done it, Sims said. Boucher has come up with big games and big moments; he’s done it all. And Kevin Reiter was great in the (2008) championship series, as well.
Boucher stopped 65 of 68 shots and went 2-0-1 in his last three games, taking CHL Goaltender of the Week honors Tuesday.
The sixth-seeded Komets (31-27-8) went 3-7-0 against third-seeded Bloomington (37-22-7).
Bouch is carrying the hot hand right now, and I know he’ll play the first game, Sims said. Reiter has always responded well behind Bouch and it seems like, just like the previous time they were together here (in 2007-08), when one’s not hot, the other one seems to be hot. So I think both of them are going to play a big role in the playoffs before it’s over.
Boucher and Reiter need to be mindful of Bloomington forwards Jason Dale and Jon Booras, who combined for seven goals and 21 points against Fort Wayne.
I think we’re both pretty confident about our situation, Boucher said. There have been inconsistencies the entire year, for the entire team. We haven’t been exempt from that, or immune from that. I definitely like the way I’m heading into the playoffs. I feel confident. I feel good.
Because this series is best-of-five, Boucher knows the Komets can’t afford to start poorly.
We’ve got to steal one on the road. That’s got to be our immediate goal – win one of the first two, Boucher said. If we get the first one, we can take a little bit of pressure off of us. That’s the ideal scenario. We can’t wait until Game 3 or Game 4 to start playing good hockey. If we do, we’ll have a long summer.
Bloomington has good goalies, too, in Marco Emond and Brad Phillips. Against the Komets, Emond was 4-1-1 with a 2.22 GAA, while Phillips was 3-1-0 with a 3.08 GAA.