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Ben Smith

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K’s should end march of underdog Generals

Great. So now we get two hockey teams that don’t know how to stay dead.

In this corner, your Fort Wayne Komets, who have turned flirting with elimination into performance art.

In this corner, your Flint Generals, who danced on the brink themselves before braining Muskegon with symmetry: a 5-2 win, followed by another 5-2 win, followed by another 5-2 win.

Now here they are in the Turner Cup Finals – two-time champion overdogs against the apparently all-but-extinct underdog of underdogs – and, listen, this could go on all summer. Your 2-year-old could be in college before this is done. Your 5-year-old, presently conducting an experiment involving a peanut butter sandwich and your DVD player, could be running Mission Control.

“Both of us came back from 3-1,” Komets player-coach Colin Chaulk said. “I think it’s pretty obvious it’s definitely not going to be over until that last buzzer.”

So how do the Komets get to that last buzzer in front?

That’s not the question. The question – to turn all this upside down, just for funsies – is how do they not?

I figure there’s only one of two ways.

1. Karma is not their friend.

Let’s be honest about this: The feel-good story’s on the other side of the ice this time.

While the Komets’ winning would just be the rich getting richer, consider the Generals’ script. First of all, they play in Flint, home of the Adversity Olympics. Second, they were dead last in the league as late as the last week of February. Third, they’re 99 percent orphan, ditched by their owners and thrown over by their own arena for a junior team.

“Yeah, they’ve got the Cinderella story going for them,” Chaulk said.

2. The math ain’t down with ’em.

Some numbers now, from the last five meetings between the Komets and the Generals.

Shots on goal per game for the Komets: 42

Goals per game: 2

Wins: 1

Losses: 4

Power play: 2 for 27

“Toward the end of the season, they stole a bunch of games from us,” Komets forward Sean O’Connor said. “Their goaltending is playing great, their top players are playing like top players, and defensively they’re playing really well. So I don’t think there’s going to be too many offensive opportunities.”

And so to review: Karma plus math equals God Loves Him Some Generals.

On the other hand, if karma were all it’s cracked up to be, Butler would be national champs right now. And those last five games?

Precursors of nothing when it’s the next four-to-seven that count.

So I’ll take Nick Boucher in goal over either Rob Nolan or Sergei Zvyagin, good as they are. I’ll throw in with the Chaulks and O’Connors and P.C. Drouins and Leo Thomases, guys who’ve done this before. I’ll lean on Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Brandon Warner for their hometown mojo, and on Justin Hodgman because … well, come on, have you seen the guy play?

“Especially of late, (Flint’s) a great team,” Chaulk said. “They’re probably the hottest team in the IHL in the second half.”

A pause.

“But I don’t know that. I worry more about our team.”

One more reason to take the overdogs.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by e-mail at bensmith@jg.net; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648 or at the “Ben Smith” topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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