Komets coach Al Sims pulled Tim Haun aside and told him, This is a good opportunity for you to show people you can be a No. 1 goaltender.
So far, so good.
Haun stopped 16 of 17 shots Friday night, helping the Komets to a 2-1 victory over the Quad City Mallards, who were playing their first game at Memorial Coliseum since 2007.
For Haun, it was just the beginning of his duties this weekend. An injury to starter Nick Boucher will keep him out all three games. The Komets signed Tyler Sims as an emergency backup goalie, but he can only play if Haun is injured.
I prepare like Im going to play every game, Haun said. Thats the mentality Ive learned through the years, that youve got to expect the unexpected.
The unexpected happened this week.
Boucher was battling a thumb injury on his right hand early in the week, but he was supposed to be back to play the Mallards, until he broke the pinky finger on his left hand during practice Thursday.
With some help from defenseman Guy Dupuis and forward Tomas Klempa, who both netted goals, and from the shot-blocking Fort Wayne defense, the Komets dispatched the league-worst Mallards (1-5-1) in front of 7,789 fans.
Tonight, the Komets (6-2-0) play host to the Dayton Gems (5-4-3). On Sunday, they go to the grudge match at Muskegon, Mich., where there could be payback for two brawls the Komets and Lumberjacks (7-3-1) took part in Oct. 31, when Fort Wayne won 3-1.
Haun isnt a stranger to playing three games in as many days – he did it last season with Huntsville of the Southern Professional Hockey League – but this is a higher level of hockey.
The guys battle hard in front of me every night. Thats all I can ask of my (defense) is to work hard, block shots, clamp down on (opposing) sticks, and theyre doing that, said Haun, who is 3-1-0 with a .903 save percentage. My job is to stop the puck, but if my defense keeps battling hard the way they are, then Ive just got to worry about my job and give us a chance to win.
Sims cautioned the next two games will be tougher, since Dayton is a speedy team thats second in the IHL in shots, and Muskegon is tied for first place. But hed like to see more of what the Komets did Friday, giving up one goal to Mike Zbriger.
I thought our guys sacrificed, Sims said. Timmy made some good saves when he had to. The one goal we allowed really was a mistake on our part, giving up the 2-on-1 (rush) late in the second period like that. Other than that, we were pretty good.
Notes: Defenseman Brandon Warner (hip) played his first game of the season. Jeff Bonar won $10,000 for predicting the score of all three periods, courtesy of Fort Wayne-area Jeep and Chrysler dealers. No one had won the promotion in its eight years.