RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Regardless of what they thought of refere Zak Blazic's performance -- and no one in the Fort Wayne locker room was overly critial for the record -- the Komets know they have to play smarter in Game 2 of the Turner Conference Semifinals.
“We can’t give up those opportunities and we’ve got to stay out of the penalty box,” Komets captain Colin Chaulk said after the 6-3 loss to the Rapid City Rush in the opener of the best-of-seven series Friday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
“They were calling it tight. I don’t think they were calling it that tight all year. … But the Rush are playing the same game. We’ve just got to have fewer penalties and be more patient.”
The Komets had the lead in the third period after Leo Thomas scored on an odd-man rush, but it lasted only 1 minute, 30 seconds before the Rush exploded for four unanswered goals.
“We had penalty problems all night and the penalties came back and bit us,” said Komets coach Al Sims, whose team allowed two power-play goals, including the game-winner to Collin Circelli
“They seemed to turn it up a notch at 3-2 and they found a way to get back ahead of us.”
The Komets won the conference in the regular season and are the higher-seeded team but have to play the first two games of the 2-3-1-1 formatted series here because Disney on Ice is at Memorial Coliseum.
The teams met in the best-of-five conference semifinals last year – that series went the distance – and the common thread has been Fort Wayne’s inability to beat the fourth-seeded Rush here.
Game 2 is tonight here.
“Coming back (from a one-goal deficit) in the third period and showing we can score in this building and we can score on Tim Boron, we’ve got to take positives from that,” Sims said. “For most of the game, other than when they had power plays, like in the first two periods, we were pretty dominating in the offensive zone.”
Rapid City, which lost 4 of 5 regular-season games to the Komets, scored on 2 of 8 power
plays Friday. Fort Wayne was 1 for 3.
Fort Wayne goaltender Nick Boucher stopped 27 of 32 shots. Boron stopped 22 of 25.
What do I think of Blazic? Well, my biggest problem was the non-call when Jamie Lovell was blasted from behind seconds before Jesse Schultz made it 2-1 during a 5-on-3 power play. There was no consistency tonight.
There was also the events that led up to the first Rush goal. Chris Auger came off the ice prior to a faceoff with a broken skate, Sims said, and the officials wouldn't let the Komets put the player they wanted on the ice. So they wound up with three defensemen and then the Rush scored. There was also a curious delay of game penalty on Boucher.