PORT HURON, Mich. – This is when a hockey teams mettle is truly tested, and its a test the Komets have aced before.
In the 2008 Turner Cup Finals, they trailed the Port Huron Icehawks 3-1 heading back to Memorial Coliseum. They rattled off three straight victories to capture the championship a triple-overtime Game 7.
This season, the circumstances are similar.
Weve been here before, Komets center Colin Chaulk said. Its not a place you like to be, with your back up against the wall, but theres no tomorrow now.
A 4-2 loss at McMorran Arena on Wednesday has put the Komets, the two-time defending champions, in another 3-1 hole to the Icehawks in the semifinals. Game 5 is at 8 tonight in the Coliseum.
The Komets are drawing on experiences from 2008 and 2005, when they overcame a 3-1 deficit in a United Hockey League semifinal series with the Rockford Icehogs.
You draw on them because theyre good experience to have, Komets left wing P.C. Drouin said. Ive been on two teams here that came back from being down 3-1. Its a great feeling. We know what to do, and we know that its doable. These four games are behind us and all weve got to do is win one game at a time. Just go completely (all) out and play every shift like its our last shift in the series.
Chaulk, Drouin and David Hukalo were part of the team that took down Rockford. There are eight Komets remaining from 2008, although tonight center Justin Hodgman must serve the final portion of his two-game suspension for slashing Nick Lindberg.
The Icehawks have six holdovers from 2008, but its unlikely goaltender Larry Sterling will play tonight after he left Wednesdays game with a head injury.
The Icehawks will probably start Raffaele DOrso, who has played 1 1/2 professional games.
The Komets want to do a better job offensively after being outscored 13-11 in the series.
Weve just got to keep playing the way weve been playing, Komets coach Al Sims said. I dont know what our team needs to do other than score goals.
One thing would be stay out of the penalty box. Port Huron has scored on 7 of 21 power plays, while Fort Wayne is 3 of 22 with the man-advantage.
The Komets have outscored the Icehawks 8-6 in even-strength situations.
Thats the real frustrating thing – 5-on-5, were playing well, Drouin said. Were working hard and creating chances. Obviously, wed like to bury more of our chances, but hopefully thats going to come in the days ahead.
Sims doesnt plan on changing much, but hell likely start two-time Cup winner Nick Boucher in net instead of Tim Haun, who has played both home games. Boucher (0-2) has stopped 60 of 67 shots. Haun (1-1), the IHLs Goaltender of the Year, has stopped 49 of 55.