None of the goals will go in the vault among the greatest ever scored. These games wont be particularly remembered weeks from now.
Its been ugly hockey out at Memorial Coliseum, but the Komets are just fine with that. A 2-1 victory Monday night gave them a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-seven Turner Cup finals.
The Komets are halfway to another IHL championship, which would be their third straight, a potential title streak unprecedented in 58 years of Komets hockey.
Left wing P.C. Drouin netted the winning goal at 5:46 of the third period after linemate Sean OConnor skated out of the right corner, fought off a defender and feathered a short pass in front of him.
Drouin swept it just underneath goaltender Rob Nolan.
Ive been telling these guys, Those are the types of chances were going to get. They dont open up or give up 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s. They play strong defensively, clog the middle of the ice and the front of the net. Its going to be ugly goals, goals off cycles (down low) and stuff like that. And were ready for that.
Now the series shifts to Perani Arena in Flint, Mich., which the Komets allege is smaller than the regulation size of 200 feet by 85 feet, and therefore more conducive to physical play, much like Port Hurons McMorran Arena was in the semifinals.
Mistakes, they think, will be amplified.
On Monday, there was really only one notable mistake by the Komets, but it was a pivotal one. Late in the first period, Flint defenseman Jake Pence, who won the last two Cups with Fort Wayne, fired a shot from the right circle into the chest of goaltender Nick Boucher. While attempting to sweep the puck away from the crease, Fort Wayne center Justin Hodgman inadvertently put it into the back of his own net, silencing the crowd of 6,509.
You know, that was just a funny one where the pucks bouncing to your own guy and you just relax, Boucher said. You see your guy there and its, OK, were in good shape. And then, all of a sudden, the pucks coming back to you. (Hodgman) just said, Sorry, Bouch, well try to get one back for you.
The Komets, who outshot the Generals 36-32, were resilient, though. During a power play midway through the second period – Flints Nathan Ward was in the penalty box for hooking – defenseman Guy Dupuis shot the puck from the blue line and it was stopped by Nolan. However, the puck was lying underneath the arm of an unaware Nolan, and left wing Matt Syroczynski chipped the puck into the top of the net.
Its going to be ugly. Its not going to be pretty. They are going to be close games, Syroczynski said. Thats fine. Weve got to win those types of games, too.
The second-seeded Komets won the opening game of the series 3-2, thanks to a Dupuis power-play goal, on Saturday at the Coliseum.
This is the finals. Its ugly hockey, said coach Al Sims, who has led the Komets to three playoff championships.
Thats the way they got here. And thats the way youve got to play against them, Sims said. If you want to beat (fourth-seeded) Flint, youve got to buy into playing the same way theyre playing.
That means just keep everything going deep. I believe we have more talent to capitalize on our chances than they do. Hopefully, two or three goals will be enough every night, with us being the best defensive team in the league.