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 aren’t unnerved by the magnitude of tonight’s 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. It’s 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 Boucher’s stopping 63 of 68 shots has helped, while the head injury to Port Huron’s star goalie, Larry Sterling, has helped, too.
There’s just been more desperation on our team’s 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 don’t know how much longer they’re 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.
It’ll probably be a full house and we don’t lose too many when 10,000 people show up, Sims said. So we’re hoping all the fans will be there and cheering us on.
The Icehawks have six players who played in the 2008 series and they won’t 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 we’ve got a Game 7. But now they’ve got their backs against the wall. It’s going to be a great fight and that’s how hockey should be played.