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Ben Smith

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It ain’t over, but, come on, it’s over

– So this is over, right?

This is as over as pet rocks, Spacelab, Tone Loc, Milli Vanilli.

It’s as over as 8-tracks, Betamax, mobile phones the size of paving bricks.

It’s so over, this series for the Presidents’ Cup, that it passed “over” 10 miles back and never noticed it had its thumb out. It’s so over that Brent Henley looked up Thursday night after Komets 7, Wichita 3, considered the question (“What’s the mindset for Game 4?”) and said ...

Well. Basically, he said that nothing’s over until it’s over.

“We have to keep the same mindset we’ve had all along,” Henley said. “We haven’t won anything yet.”

Know what’s significant about that, other than the fact he’s absolutely right?

It’s that the blinders that got these Komets to three-games-to-none in the Presidents’ Cup finals in the first place haven’t slipped a millimeter.

And it would be easy, so easy, for that to happen, given how near the summit it is, and how dominant the Komets have been in the ascent.

In three games, they’ve doubled the score on the Thunder, 18-9, including 13-6 in the last two games. They’ve been faster, shiftier, more skilled with the puck and more tenacious without it. And Nick Boucher has done what Nick Boucher does, which is basically make goals vanish into thin air.

In short, they’re just better, and you saw it again Thursday night, from the moment Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock rifled a seed past Bryan Hogan in the Wichita goal a shade over three minutes in.

Bryant Molle scored a handful of seconds later, and the thing was on.

Pretty soon Daniel Maggio was blistering a laser just under the crossbar to best Hogan again, and then Colin Chaulk and Leo Thomas got loose in front to plant two more, and then Mike Vaskivuo was absolutely undressing a Wichita defenseman and dropping the puck the Chaulk.

Bang. Top shelf, far side. One jock, size unknown, left lying on the ice to mark the spot where Vask played his slick little shell game with the puck.

By the end there were enough Wichita jocks out there to open a sporting goods store – J.M. Rizk lifted another with a slick reversal of field behind the net to set up Schrock for goal No. 7 – and it was on to Game 4. And on to over-not-being-over.

“This team (the Komets) is not going to make it easy on themselves,” Chaulk warned, reminding everyone of the 5-1 that shrunk to 5-3 in an eye blink in the second period.

Across the room, that got a big, “Hell yeah,” from Henley.

“It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “This game, I don’t think (the score) was indicative of how competitive it was out there. They’re too good to take lightly, and you know they’ve probably won three or four games in a row at some point this year. So we can’t have any letup.”

Not until it really is over.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at bensmith@jg.net; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.

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