At 39, defenseman Guy Dupuis was the oldest guy on the ice Saturday night. But he played like the youngest.
He had a goal and two assists for the Komets, who won the opening game of the best-of-seven Turner Cup Finals 3-2 over the Flint Generals.
Dupuis netted the game-winning goal, during a third-period power play, with a shot from the right circle that evaded the outstretched glove of Flint goaltender Rob Nolan.
It was a night in which the Komets didn’t begin with the same fiery play that helped them eclipse a 3-1 semifinals deficit against the Port Huron Icehawks, but the Komets were buzzing by the end, much to the delight of the 8,089 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
Now they’re three victories away from clinching their third straight playoff championship, an unprecedented feat in 58 years of Komets hockey.
Both teams were looking at each other (early on), to see what the other was going to do, said Dupuis, the Komets’ captain. Then we started going at them, taking it to them a little bit more, being more physical, with a bit more speed. Every turnover they would make, we would just move faster at them. Mostly at home, that’s how we’ve got to play.
Maybe (we stagnated) because of our four-day layoff, after the last series, and you kind of lose that playoff intensity for a little bit. But the next game, we’ve got to start right at them from the get-go.
About the only excitement of the first period came from a collision between the Komets’ David Hukalo and Flint’s Ben Boudreau, who lay on the ice motionless for a couple of minutes but was able to return.
A power play early in the second period gave Fort Wayne the first lead. Dupuis’ slap shot from the blue line ricocheted off the left goalpost and landed on the stick of forward Justin Hodgman, who wristed it into the top of an open net at 1:18.
Two minutes later, the Generals’ John Ronan tied it, controversially, with a power-play goal. He sent a rebound into the net, though the goal had already been knocked off its moorings by Fort Wayne’s Danko Mironovic. Referee Jim Hawthorne ruled it a goal, without consulting with the linemen or goal judge, but he is allowed to do so under Rule 63.6, which says: In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player or goalkeeper, prior to the puck crossing the goal line the referee may award a goal.
The K’s scored on 2 of 4 power plays. Flint was 1 for 4.
The Generals took a 2-1 lead at 8:54, after former NHL player Bryan Smolinski skated out from behind the Fort Wayne net and sent a crossing pass to Jamie Schaafsma, who beat goaltender Nick Boucher.
The Komets responded at 13:34. To evade a defender, Dupuis chipped the puck from the right circle, and center Justin Chwedoruk went airborne to catch it then dropped the puck and shot it past Nolan to tie it at 2.
Boucher (4-2) stopped 22 of 24 shots. Nolan (4-3) stopped 28 of 31.
We just need to gear up the intensity a little more, Generals coach Jason Muzzatti said. Special teams, there weren’t a ton of penalties, only (16), but they certainly were a factor with three of the goals being scored that way. We’ve got to tune things up and get back, ready for (Game 2) on Monday.
Notes: The K’s scratched forward Mitch Woods from the lineup in favor of Brad MacMillan. The Generals played without center Dan Lapointe and defenseman Tyler Howells. Lightning struck the Coliseum and damaged the public-address system before the game.