In the end, the battle for second came down to well, seconds.
Twenty-two, to be exact.
Twenty-two seconds from the national anthem Saturday night to Konstantin Shafranov tipping Matt Syroczynski’s goalmouth pass past Port Huron goalie Larry Sterling, and the Icehawks, like everyone else taking the ice against the Komets lately, were playing a game of catch-up they couldn’t win.
Fifty-nine minutes and 38 seconds later, the streaking Komets won 5-1 in front of 8,010 in Memorial Coliseum, their third win in four days and ninth in 11 games.
More to the point, they also had second place, by a point over the Icehawks.
It’s an old adage, I guess, to try to get the first goal, said forward P.C. Drouin, who scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season. We’re really, really trying to do that, and get a first good 10 minutes, and what do you know? It’s working.
Working to the point that, not only didn’t the Komets (38-18-3) trail at any time in three games this week, they were never even tied – unless, that is, you count 0-0.
It was a great week for us, Komets coach Al Sims said. We had a good first period again. We’ve done that the last three games, and obviously it’s spelled easy victories for us.
On this night, Shafranov’s rude greeting was followed at 6:24 by Drouin, who pounced on a wayward clearing attempt by a Port Huron defenseman, cruised in alone on Sterling and slid the puck around him at a severe angle for 2-0. That’s how it stayed until 12:28 of the third, when Derek Patrosso, with Port Huron (37-19-4) skating a man up, lashed a ricochet from between the circles into an open net to narrow it to 2-1.
A suddenly tense game stayed that way for all of 58 seconds.
That’s how long it took Drouin to answer at 13:26, and then it was Colin Chaulk at 14:54 and Sean O’Connor at 18:46, and whatever brief suspense existed was dead. The Komets outshot the Icehawks 36-21.
Our team’s really resilient, Sims said. There’s no panic.
Lots of its opposite, though.
We’re playing with great confidence right now, Drouin said. Colin’s line has been doing great on the first shift every game. If they’re not scoring, they’re really giving us a good opportunity to get thing going in the right way.
We’re so confident in our ability right now and the way we’re playing, that even if a team gets back close, we’re not worried.
Notes: Komets tough guy Brad MacMillan suffered a separated shoulder in the first period and left the ice, reappearing later in the press box with his arm in a sling. Brad Jones, the IHL’s vice president of hockey operations, was in attendance and noted that the league’s trade deadline has been extended to Friday because the season is a week longer this year.