The dry-erase board in the Komets’ locker room read, ALL BUSINESS.
And that’s what the Komets were Thursday night as they defeated Wichita 7-3 at Memorial Coliseum in front of 7,105 fans to go up 3-0 in the best-of-seven Presidents’ Cup finals.
We were up 2-0 in the series and in a good spot, Komets forward Mike Vaskivuo said. We wanted to keep the pedal to the metal and take care of business. That’s what we’re trying to do here.
The Komets did so by scoring the first two goals, then using superior special-team play in the second period and going for the jugular in the third.
They got two goals apiece from Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Colin Chaulk, scored on two of four power plays, not including the goal they scored with a delayed penalty coming, and outshot the regular-season champion 41-29.
A victory Saturday at the Coliseum would give the Komets their ninth playoff championship in 60 seasons. It would be their first CHL title in their second season in the league before an expected departure to the ECHL.
We did what we had to do to get a very important win, Komets coach Al Sims said. I thought in the third period, we played a complete period and played the way we are capable of playing.
Forward Tom Mele’s crossing pass during a 2-on-1 rush was buried by Schrock 3:22 into the first period to start the scoring. Rookie defenseman Bryant Molle’s blast from the blue line skidded underneath goalie Bryan Hogan for a 2-0 lead 32 seconds later.
It was Hogan’s first start of the playoffs, as Adam Russo was out with a concussion.
Fort Wayne goalie Nick Boucher was beat at 9:43 on center Aaron Davis’ shot from the left boards as the Thunder unleashed seven consecutive shots.
Within a span of 1:33 of the second period, the Komets got goals from rookie defenseman Daniel Maggio, Chaulk and forward Leo Thomas, who scored with the help of an extra attacker.
Our power play has been hit-or-miss, you know, and we’ve just got to be better on the power play, defenseman Frankie DeAngelis said. Tonight, we did a great job. Hogan came up big on a couple of shots, but we’re getting chances and moving the puck well and have just got to keep doing what we’re doing.
The Thunder tightened things with back-to-back goals from forward Matt Summers, both off rebounds, within a span of 2:06 late in the second period.
Momentum is huge, Schrock said. That’s how teams win in the playoffs and we can’t give them any. We don’t want them to win one game. As soon as they win one, they smell blood.
Vaskivuo juggled the puck and faked his way around defenseman Travis White before setting up Chaulk for an easy goal and a 6-3 lead 2:24 in the third.
Schrock made it 7-3 with a wrist shot from the right circle at 5:06.