He ladles out superlatives about as often as a CEO turns down a raise. But even Fort Wayne Komets coach Al Sims had to offer one this night.
It was, he said Friday, a really good night.
Hard to argue with that.
In front of a crowd of 8,375, the Komets scored twice in the first period, twice in the second and went on to throttle first-place Muskegon 5-2, a nearly wall-to-wall lamination that drew the Komets within six points of first place and was as impressive at one end of the ice as the other.
On offense, Colin Chaulk, Mitch Woods, Konstantin Shafranov, Danko Mironovic and Leo Thomas scored for the Komets. On defense, goalie Tim Haun turned aside 24 of 26 shots but was rarely tested thanks to a defense that stole every angle, forced one turnover after another and spent a good portion of the evening sprawled on the ice in front of shots and centering passes.
Just overall one of the best games weve played defensively, Thomas said.
We stuck to our systems, we trapped really well. We came out really strong, and thats exactly what we needed. Every guy in this room knew this was the biggest game of the year.
Just as they did Wednesday against Bloomington, the Komets put Muskegon on its back early and never really let the Lumberjacks up.
Chaulk gave the Komets a 1-0 lead at 4:52 of the first on a play eerily similar to the one that got them started Wednesday: a 2-on-1 break, this time with P.C. Drouin serving as the decoy on the other wing.
A touch more than nine minutes later, Woods jumped a loose puck at the Muskegon blue line, dropped it to David Hukalo, then continued to the net to stuff the remains of Hukalos shot past Sebastien Centomo to make it 2-0.
I think our good defense caused two turnovers on the first two goals, Sims said. And then we really kept a high-scoring team to nothing in the second period. I think other than the odd power play, we did a great job defensively. We were really focused, Timmy was focused, everybody from the goalie outplayed their game and played their role.
Forty-seven seconds into the second period, Shafranov stuck another rebound in the top of the net from the corner of the goal, and it was 3-0. Then Mironovic ripped one past Centomo from the blue line with the Komets skating a man down – a play initiated by Lincoln Kaleigh Schrocks hustling rush with a loose puck that had initially been a blocked shot in front of the Komets net.
Muskegon got two of those goals back on power plays in the third, scoring with the Komets two men down at 7:02 and a man down at 8:15. But Thomas answered with a power-play goal of his own six minutes later.
The games are dwindling down, and were very focused on what have to do to get first place, Sims said.
It was two teams that were fully stocked, and we came out on top.