The Komets came out of their first-round three-game sweep of the Bloomington PrairieThunder feeling confident and like they have, again, got the killer instinct that led them to the last three championships in the IHL.
Against a team like Bloomington, it’s a real feather in our cap and a feather in everybody’s cap in that dressing room, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said, after his team, seeded sixth in the Turner Conference, outscored the third-seeded PrairieThunder 14-6, capped by Wednesday’s 6-3 victory at Memorial Coliseum.
Games 2 and 3 were both tied entering the third period, before the Komets netted early goals – from Mathieu Curadeau and Artem Podshendyalov, respectively – to ice those games.
In the last two games, we came out for the third period (with it tied) and had to get it done, and we found a way to get it done, Sims said. You can’t say enough about the character in the room and the way we played.
After losing 16 of their first 21 games in the CHL, the Komets wound up 31-27-8 in the regular season, 14 points behind their next opponent, the Rapid City Rush, the conference’s top seed and the CHL’s reigning champion.
That best-of-five series begins April 15 in South Dakota.
Fort Wayne lost 4-0 at home to Rapid City on opening night and 3-1 March 12 in Rapid City.
Our recipe for the rest of the playoffs has to be this: We have to match everybody’s work ethic, Komets defenseman Guy Dupuis said. We’ve got a lot of character on this team, and we’ve got a lot of talent, and that’s going to take over and help us win games.
In the playoffs, the Komets have the top-ranked offense (4.67 goals per game), third-ranked defense (2.00 goals against per game), the No. 3 power play (31.3 percent) and the No. 4 penalty kill (93.8 percent).
Of the Komets’ 14 goals, five have come on the power play, two were short-handed and three were empty-netters.
Rapid City, which swept Dayton in the first round, ranks fourth with 4.00 goals per game, sixth with 2.67 goals against per game, has the No. 1 power play at 38.5 percent and the No. 11 penalty kill at 75 percent.
Fort Wayne has been led in scoring by Curadeau, whose four goals and eight points are tied for the CHL lead. Frankie DeAngelis is tied for the lead among all defensemen with five points. And goaltender Nick Boucher, who is 3-0, has a 2.00 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
Rapid City’s Les Reaney has three goals and five points. Defenseman Riley Weselowski has four assists. Goalie Danny Battochio is 2-0 with a 3.13 GAA and a .903 save percentage, while Tim Boron, who is 1-0, has a 1.31 GAA and a .971 save percentage.