PORT HURON, Mich. – Here we go again.
For the third time six years, the Komets have recovered from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series to force a decisive Game 7.
They have the utmost confidence that, as they did in the previous two Game 7s, they will win tonight – against the Port Huron Icehawks in the IHL semifinals.
In the 2005 United Hockey League semifinals, the Komets defeated the Rockford IceHogs 2-1 on a Jonathan Goodwin overtime goal. In the 2008 Turner Cup Finals, they defeated the Icehawks on a Justin Hodgman triple-overtime goal.
Those victories brought the Komets all-time record in Game 7s to 6-3, including a 5-2 mark at Memorial Coliseum.
If the Komets win, they will play the winner of the Flint-Muskegon series in the Turner Cup finals. The Lumberjacks lead that series 3-2 with Game 6 on Tuesday at Flint.
The two-time defending-champion Komets have three players who were part of the playoff runs in both 2005 and 2008 – Colin Chaulk, P.C. Drouin and David Hukalo – while there are eight holdovers from the 2008 team.
The experience of playing in such pressure situations has helped the Komets rattle off the past two victories, 7-2 at the Coliseum on Friday and 4-3 at McMorran Arena on Saturday, and is why the Komets arent unnerved by the magnitude of tonights game.
The Frankes (who own the team), year after year, put a lot of guys with character on the team, captain Guy Dupuis said. When our backs are against the wall, more times than not, it seems like we come out with our best game. Its happened a lot of times in the last six years. They have (paired) all-stars on the team with guys who have got character.
Though the Komets have certainly made mistakes the last two games, particularly in giving the Icehawks 13 power plays, resulting in two goals, they believe they have played with more determination.
Goaltender Nick Bouchers stopping 63 of 68 shots has helped, while the head injury to Port Hurons star goalie, Larry Sterling, has helped, too.
Theres just been more desperation on our teams part, more urgency, and the will to win another championship, said Al Sims, who has coached the Komets to three Turner Cups (1993, 2008, 2009) and a 2-1 record in Game 7s.
There are a lot of guys here that dont know how much longer theyre going to play and they want to get it done one more time. Three in a row would be unbelievable.
The Komets are hopeful there will be a sellout crowd of 10,480 tonight, and with good reason. The Komets are 14-0-1 over the last three seasons, regular season and playoffs combined, when they have a full arena.
Itll probably be a full house and we dont lose too many when 10,000 people show up, Sims said. So were hoping all the fans will be there and cheering us on.
The Icehawks have six players who played in the 2008 series and they wont want to blow another 3-1 series lead.
We worked for it and we got the bounce (Saturday), Dupuis said of center Leo Thomas redirection goal with 2.1 seconds remaining that tied the series at 3. Now weve got a Game 7. But now theyve got their backs against the wall. Its going to be a great fight and thats how hockey should be played.