There wasnt much hitting in the first two games of the Turner Cup Finals. But the Komets, who lead the Flint Generals 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, believe thats about to change as the teams head to Perani Arena for the next two games.
Well, its a smaller building and the series will become more physical, I believe, up there, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. Weve got to just stay away from the after-whistle scrums that put us down. We have to play really disciplined and well defensively.
The IHL office claims in its media guide that the ice surface at Perani Arena is regulation size at 200 feet by 85 feet, the same as Memorial Coliseum.
Thats not a notion the Komets believe.
Its smaller, Sims said. They can catch us, yes.
Left wing Matt Syroczynski, a master of navigating the corners of small arenas, agreed.
Its smaller, he said. Everythings a little bit faster. Its like Port Huron, but we played pretty well there. Its pretty tight. I wish I knew the dimensions, but they probably dont even know up there in Flint. Theyre just going to play their game. They play well at home.
Despite the Komets success at the IHLs tiniest venue, Port Hurons McMorran Arena (185 by 85), where Fort Wayne won Game 6 of the semifinals, en route to a seven-game win, the Komets have struggled at Perani Arena.
During the regular season, the Komets were 1-3-2 at Perani Arena.
Its important for us to start well, Syroczynski said.
That might not be easy, considering the fourth-seeded Generals, as the home team, will be able to make the last line change before each faceoff and get the matchups they want. Particularly, the Generals have been trying to pit defenseman Craig Cescon against center Colin Chaulk.
They did a good job of trying to get their matchups on the ice, while on the road, Syroczynski said. Well have to do the same now, too.
More than anything, the Komets will have to get ready to play physically. They dont mind that aspect of it. But they dont want to end up in short-handed situations – theyve been scored on 10 times out of 43 opposing power plays in the playoffs – and they also have struggled in 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 situations, Sims said.
Id say itll be similar to (playing at McMorran). Id say it will be a lot more physical, said left wing P.C. Drouin, who netted the winning goal in Game 2, a 2-1 victory Monday. Well have less room to skate. But as long as we keep our game simple and dont give them anything, like they dont give us anything, then I think well do all right.
The first two games of the series were marked by stifling defensive play and ugly goals, and Drouin expects more of the same at Perani Arena.
We were ready for that, he said. Thats how (the Generals) made it to the playoffs. They played smart hockey and didnt give teams anything. That is ugly, but it is effective.