The final two games of the regular season had no bearing on postseason positioning for the Fort Wayne Komets, but they certainly didn't treat them as meaningless.
They won them both, with center Colin Chaulk stripping the puck from a pair of Flint Generals in their own territory during the third period Sunday night, then beating goaltender Rob Nolan on a breakaway for a 2-1 regular-season-finale victory.
"No we definitely didn't want to take it easy going into the playoffs," left wing P.C. Drouin said. "You get some bad habits when you do that. We knew we'd get a tough matchup from (the Generals) since it was a game they needed. It wasn't an easy one."
Despite losing, the Generals nabbed the fourth and final playoff spot because Bloomington collapsed with six losses down the stretch, including a 4-1 loss to Port Huron on Sunday.
Flint, which is on a 6-1-1 surge, will take on top-seeded Muskegon in the semifinals, while second-seeded Fort Wayne opens against Port Huron on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.
Before then, coach Al Sims must determine which of his goaltenders will get the Game 1 start. Nick Boucher, who backstopped the Komets to the last two playoff championships, would have seemed the logical choice because of his play down the stretch, but he came out of Sunday's game after stopping 13 shots in the first period because of a shoulder injury. Tim Haun, who was selected the IHL's Goaltender of the Year, but has played only twice since returning from a concussion, stopped 15 of 16 shots.
As for the awards ...
Chaulk was selected as the Komets' MVP by his teammates, making it the fourth time he's received the honor in seven seasons with Fort Wayne. Chaulk also took the Stonewall Defensive Forward award, after he'd already won the league-wide award, and Chaulk got the Plus/Minus Award for being a team-best plus-34.
"I'm always trying to play hard at both ends of the rink," Chaulk said. "Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Plus/minus, that's a great stat when you're doing well with it. But when you're not doing well, you're not a big fan of the stat. A lot of those (awards) are team efforts and I want to thank my teammates for (MVP), that's for sure. But hey, it's a new season now."
The Komets' captain, Dupuis, who has tallied 14 goals and 43 points, was selected Defenseman of the Year by reporters and front-office personnel for the fifth straight season and eighth time with the Komets. Dupuis also got the "True Komet" award for team spirit and positive attitude on and off the ice.
Forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, who has 20 goals, 31 points and 168 penalty minutes, took Rookie of the Year honors in maybe the toughest award to decide, given Sean O'Connor, Frankie DeAngelis and Bobby Phillips were all eligible. Schrock, a native of Fort Wayne, also won the Mr. Hustle Award.
DeAngelis, a defenseman with nine goals, 41 points and a plus-31 rating, was chosen as Most Improved Player.
The Unsung Hero Award was shared between Leo Thomas, who has 33 goals and 60 points, and Brad MacMillan, who has nine points and 233 penalty minutes.
The Bud Gallmeier Memorial Trophy for community service was shared by center Justin Chwedoruk and goaltender Tim Haun.