When it came to winning the Turner Cup – for a third straight season – the Komets relied on a balanced and deep roster.
All 20 players on the team saw playing time during the postseason. All but two of them tallied points. Both goaltenders won crucial games. Rookies played like veterans.
It was a total team effort.
(Think) of the Detroit Red Wings and when Steve Yzerman figured out it’s not about the star, 50-goal seasons, 130 points and everything else, center Colin Chaulk said.
It’s about having depth and having a balanced team. Our motto has been: The veterans do their job, and the rookies play like veterans, and we’ve got a chance to win every year.’
Early in the playoffs, it was the Komets’ top line of Chaulk, Matt Syroczynski and Justin Hodgman that was carrying the scoring load. Not until Fort Wayne fell behind 3-1 to Port Huron in the best-of-seven semifinals did every line start contributing offensively.
The Komets won seven of their final eight games, including a 3-2 victory over Flint on Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. It was the eighth championship in the franchise’s 58-year history.
It’s important to get balance, said left wing P.C. Drouin, who led the Komets with 18 points (five goals) in the playoffs. Since probably the middle of the (Port Huron) series, we’ve been consistent from all three lines and that’s big. To have that at this level in the playoffs, it’s crucial. It’s hard for teams to match that when it happens.
Syroczynski, selected as Playoff MVP because he had 11 goals and 16 points, agreed that having such depth made it difficult for Flint to successfully put its best defensive players on the Komets’ top offensive players.
There was just too much to contain.
It’s just like I was saying at the beginning of the playoffs: Lines 1, 2 and 3 – we need them all to win, Syroczynski said. Especially down the road in the playoffs, match-ups are huge, and you’re not going to have your best every night. We all stepped up for each other.
Seven players scored at least four goals for Fort Wayne during the playoffs. Six players had at least 11 points. Defensively, the Komets were stingy, too, with the exception of the 7-6 overtime loss in Game 3 of the Finals. Fort Wayne allowed 14 goals in the finals.
Defenseman Brandon Warner was plus-9, tied with Drouin for tops on the team. Rookie defenseman Frankie DeAngelis was a plus-7.
And then there was the goaltending tandem of Nick Boucher, who made 19 saves in the Cup-clinching game, and Tim Haun.
After the Komets lost Game 3, coach Al Sims made the unusual move of sitting his top goalie for a game, and Haun stopped 33 shots in a 6-2 road victory.
Boucher was 6-3 with a 2.62 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and one shutout in the playoffs, while Haun was 2-1 with a 2.69 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
It’s always a good thing to have two goalies who can play, Haun said. We proved that this year. We both thrived by getting multiple starts on the road during the season. And in the playoffs, Bouch took control during the Port Huron series. He knows what to do and has proved that the last three years. I just prepared myself for when the opportunity came up.
After it was all done Saturday, Sims looked at every one of his players and acknowledged that they all played a part in the victory.
It was a total team effort this year, he said. It wasn’t one goalie carrying us; both of them played. All 20 players played. It was just a team effort all the way around.