FORT WAYNE – The Komets have had to endure several obstacles in the playoffs, including injuries, travel and unexpected losses.
So dropping the opening game of the Turner Conference finals on Friday night in a disputed fashion wasn’t about to faze them.
I think the more guys you’ve got who are wearing a ring, the more guys you’ve got who’ve been here and been through the wars and know what to expect, the (better off you are), Komets coach Al Sims said.
I thought the young guys did a lot of growing in the Rapid City series and learned a lot. A lot of them were fooled a couple of times, and they won’t be fooled again.
The Komets lost 3-2 to the Missouri Mavericks on a John-Scott Dickson overtime goal, after Ed McGrane forced overtime on a penalty shot with 19 seconds remaining.
That penalty shot was awarded after the net was knocked off by Komets defenseman Brent Henley, though whether it was intentional was a topic of much debate. The CHL didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Heading into Game 2 of the best-of-seven series, the Komets were leaning heavily on their experienced players, including Colin Chaulk and Brett Smith, who have captained championship teams, and three-time Cup-winning goalie Nick Boucher.
Meanwhile, they know no matter what happens now, they are going to have to win a game on the road to win the series. Games 3, 4 and 5 – if it goes five games – will be at Independence, Mo., Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
In the playoffs, the Komets are 2-1 on the road, including a 4-3 series-clinching overtime victory last Tuesday at Rapid City, S.D.
I think winning two out of three in Rapid City, which I think is maybe the toughest building to win in, really gave us a boost, Sims said. Most teams have smaller neutral zones in their rinks than we do here and that really helps us with our trap and getting turnovers and creating scoring chances for us, much more than we get at home.
Missouri was 19-11-3 at home in the regular season and 2-0 in the first-round sweep of Evansville. Fort Wayne was 21-11-1 on the road in the regular season.