Port Huron Icehawks coach Stan Drulia was on edge when asked about containing the Komets’ top line of Justin Hodgman, Colin Chaulk and Matt Syroczynski.
They’re killing us, Drulia said.
Of the Komets’ nine goals and 27 points in the first three games of the Turner Cup semifinals, that line has accounted for six goals and 14 points.
How do you shut down Hodgman, Chaulk and Syro? Drulia said. All three of them are creative. Chaulk makes that line. And Hodgman, he’s playing really good right now. Believe me, I know what Hodgy can do because I saw it a couple years ago (when he was playoff MVP).
Drulia won’t have to worry about Hodgman for the next two games. Hodgman was suspended by the IHL for a baseball-like slash on Nick Lindberg at the end of Sunday’s 4-3 Icehawks victory. Port Huron leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Justin was in the corner by himself and toward the end of the game, he went to the front of the net, wound up, took the stick above his head and came down with a baseball-like slash on the back of his leg, said Brad Jones, the IHL’s vice president of hockey operations. Then there was a secondary slash, kind of at (Lindberg’s) stick while backing away.
The only non-top-line goal by a Fort Wayne player over the last two games – both losses for Fort Wayne – came on a power play by defenseman Guy Dupuis.
Komets coach Al Sims declined to comment on Hodgman’s suspension, but he said David Hukalo would take Hodgman’s spot on the top line. Hukalo, last year’s playoff MVP, is scoreless in this series.
We need the other lines to score, said Sims, who got two goals from second-liner Sean O’Connor in the series-opening 4-2 victory at Memorial Coliseum.
Leo Thomas has only two assists, and P.C. Drouin has one. During the regular season, they combined for 59 goals and 142 points. Justin Chwedoruk, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Mitch Woods, who will all man the third line tonight, are scoreless.
The Komets need offensive balance if they want to capture a third straight Turner Cup championship, and that’s increasingly important without Hodgman, who has three goals and six points in the playoffs.
That top line has really been carrying our offense, and I know both the second and third lines are getting a lot of chances, Schrock said. They’re just not cashing in. It’s when you start losing the chances that you have to start worrying. But we do have to start cashing in. We only have (potentially) two games left. We’ll get going.
That may continue to be difficult tonight, because the Icehawks will be at home and get the last line change, allowing Drulia to get the defensive matchups he wants.
We’ve got some matchups that I don’t think Al likes (at McMorran), Drulia said. And he’s got some matchups (at Memorial Coliseum) that I don’t like. We’re going a little bit of cat and mouse, trying to get guys into the right situations.
So far, it’s worked out in favor of the third-seeded Icehawks.
We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board and get back to work, Komets defenseman Brandon Warner said.