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K's can't start slow against Bloomington

The Komets' reputation is one of being able to come back like perhaps no other team in all of minor-league hockey.

That's rooted in their successful comebacks from 3-1 playoff deficits in the 2008 Turner Cup Finals and the 2010 IHL semifinals.

Now that they're in the CHL, though, the Komets can't afford to stumble at the beginning of their first-round playoff series versus the Bloomington PrairieThunder.

Sixteen teams qualified for the playoffs and the first two rounds are best-of-five.

"We can't drop behind 3-1, that's for sure," Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said with a chuckle, after his team grabbed the Turner Conference's sixth seed with a 2-1 victory over Colorado on Saturday.

"If we do, we'll be out. We could go down 2-0 and win three in a row, but really, we have to win one on the road (to start). We have to find a way to win one on the road and play like we did at home (Saturday)."

The PrairieThunder (37-22-7) grabbed the third seed by earning a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to Evansville today.

Fort Wayne (31-27-8), which won the last three championships of the IHL, was 3-7-0 against Bloomington in the regular season. The Komets were in last place until the first week of February and finished the regular season in their highest position of the season.

"Bloomington is a low-scoring team. Like us, they're toward the bottom of the rankings in scoring. It will be 2-1 or 3-2 every night. We know it, and I'm sure they know it, too," Sims said. "We've got some confidence going against Bloomington."

The PrairieThunder ranked 14th with 2.89 goals per game this season. The Komets ranked 16th with 2.83.

The schedule for the playoff series will be announced later tonight -- Games 1 and 2 will be at Bloomington, Ill., on Saturday and Sunday -- and the Komets' 19-man playoff roster will be revealed Monday. That roster won't include forward Jon Mirasty, general manager David Franke said, and another player, likely a defenseman, will have to be left off.

Sims already said Nick Boucher will be his Game 1 starting goaltender.

"We can't wait till Game 3 or Game 4 to start playing good hockey," said Boucher, who backstopped the Komets in their comebacks from 3-1, both times against Port Huron. "If we do, we're going to have a long summer. We've got to make sure for the start, we're playing well and we're playing hard. That's going to be necessary for us to win the series."

jcohn@jg.net

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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