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    Komets coach Gary Graham and general manager David Franke had coveted forward Greg Wolfe for some time, because of his success at the collegiate level and his leadership abilities, and weeks of phone calls paid off Monday with the signing of the 24-
First round
Game 1: 8 p.m. today at Bloomington
Game 2: 4 p.m. Sunday at Bloomington
Game 3: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Komets
Game 4: 8 p.m. Friday at Komets*
Game 5: 4 p.m. April 10 at Bloomington*
* – If necessary
Bloomington: 2.85 goals per game, 15th in CHL
Komets: 2.83 per game, 16th Defense
Bloomington: 2.86 against per game, 3rd in CHL
Komets: 3.09 against per game, 8th Power play
Bloomington: 14.8 percent, 17th in CHL
Komets: 18.4 percent, 6th Penalty kill
Bloomington: 83.1 percent, 7th in CHL
Komets: 83 percent, 8th Penalty minutes
Bloomington: 18.36 minutes per game, 10th in CHL
Komets: 20.48 minutes per game, 3rd
Komets center Colin Chaulk vs. Bloomington center Jon Booras
It’s a testament to center Colin Chaulk’s impact on the Komets that he was voted MVP by his teammates – for the fifth time – despite only playing in 39 games after returning from Europe.
After Chaulk rejoined the Komets (31-27-8), whom he led to three straight championships in the IHL, the team went 22-12-5.
Offensively, he has helped spark the offense – he had 10 goals and 40 points – but this series may come down to his ability to win faceoffs and defend Bloomington center Jon Booras.
The games in the best-of-five series figure to be low-scoring, since Bloomington and Fort Wayne rank third and eighth, respectively, in defense.
That means the tiniest mistake could cost a team a game or the series, and Booras has a knack for the dramatic.
In his last 17 games against Fort Wayne, he has seven goals and 17 points, including the game-winner in their last meeting, a 4-2 victory March 20, when Booras got out of the penalty box, intercepted a Guy Dupuis pass and scored on a breakaway.
He has scored 128 goals over five seasons with the PrairieThunder (37-22-7), which has never been in the playoffs before.
Booras is a fine defensive player, too, who will have to mark Chaulk. Considering Booras had a minus-10 rating and Chaulk a plus-11, it would seem that Chaulk has the edge on paper.
But Booras has the third-seeded team in the Turner Conference, while Chaulk has the No. 6 squad.
Tab Lardner vs. Jason Dale
Lardner is the highest-scoring player in the series – he had 31 goals and 52 points in 67 games this season with Fort Wayne and Missouri – but Dale could be the most explosive. During a 27-game midseason stretch in which he had 10 goals and 29 points. He finished with 17 goals and 52 points in 63 games. Even if Lardner doesn’t tally many points himself, he could take matters into his own hands by shutting down Dale. Lardner won the Komets’ Best Defensive Forward Award. Guy Dupuis vs. Brett Holmberg
Say what you will about Dupuis at age 40, he always saves his best for the playoffs. He had three goals and 11 points in 12 games last year. His biggest impact may be on the power play, where he runs the point with deft passing. However, the PrairieThunder can be dangerous short-handed – they ranked seventh with 10 goals – and Holmberg can capitalize on an errant pass. He has seven short-handed goals in the last three seasons, including four this season.
PREDICTION: Komets in five.
Drouin had five goals and a team-best 18 points in 12 postseason games last season.

Drouin ready for playoffs

Hopes to forget subpar season

Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
P.C. Drouin had 14 goals, 44 points and a minus-3 rating in 61 games this season. The 36-year-old forward had never before had fewer than 23 goals or 74 points in a Fort Wayne uniform.

Left wing P.C. Drouin knows his season hasn’t met expectations. But he believes he can salvage it in some respects, as the Komets open their first-round playoff series today against the Bloomington PrairieThunder.

“I need to pick it up for the playoffs,” Drouin said. “If I can do that, I can help the team cause a couple surprises and get some salvation to my season.”

Few could have expected the regular season Drouin had – he had 14 goals, 44 points and a minus-3 rating in 61 games – after the way he looked in the playoffs last year. As the Komets won their third straight championship in the IHL, Drouin totaled five goals and a team-best 18 points in 12 postseason games.

But then the Komets joined the CHL, which is composed of younger and faster players, and Drouin struggled from the start. So did almost the entire Fort Wayne team, which lost 16 of its first 21 games and finished 31-27-8 for the sixth seed in the Turner Conference.

“It’s tough to say what happened,” Drouin said. “With the start we had, like everybody, I had a tough start both physically and mentally. For a while, I felt like I picked it up, but then it went the other way again. I’ve never had a season like that before.”

Drouin, 36, who skated three NHL games with the Boston Bruins in 1996-97, is in his sixth season with the Komets dating back to 2004. He’d never had fewer than 23 goals or 74 points in a Fort Wayne uniform.

“I’ve had lulls within the season before,” he said, “but for a whole season I’ve never had these kinds of struggles, both physically and mentally. I’m not playing my game. I’m not carrying the puck. I’m not making the plays I used to make.”

General manager David Franke believes it has been a combination of Drouin’s age and the CHL style of play.

“It’s a situation of (Drouin) not getting any younger,” Franke said. “There’s not a lot of guys in the NHL, (American Hockey League) or anywhere who have played as long as he has. I think the type of style that the teams in this league play, and his age, it’s starting to catch up. But that’s normal. You’re not going to do at 36 what you do at 25. It’s not going to work.”

Drouin said he feels good physically, though.

“Physically, I think I’m in just as good shape as I used to be,” Drouin said. “But when you don’t have the confidence, you can start doubting your plays and what you can get done, and that complicates everything. Really, that makes it harder physically on you because you are not in the right spots, not making the plays you normally make and things go the wrong way.”

Franke promised that the Komets will get a lineup more in keeping with other teams in the CHL next season. Drouin doesn’t really fit that demographic, which makes it crucial for him to have a good postseason.