RAPID CITY, S.D. – There was some fear in the Komets locker room that center Brett Smith, an alternate captain, wouldnt be able to play because of an injury to his head and neck area suffered in Game 1.
But Smith was on the ice for the Komets on Saturday in their 3-1 win over Rapid City that evened the Turner Conference semifinals at 1.
Smith was checked from behind by the Rapid City Rushs Jeff Krzakos in the third period of the Rushs 6-3 victory in the opener of the best-of-seven Turner Conference semifinals. The hit took place behind the Rush net in the third period and no penalty was called.
Komets general manager David Franke said he did ask the league to review the play but wouldnt comment further, other than to say he thought it at least deserved a minor penalty.
A league spokesman, Bob Hoffman, said he didnt know of any fines yet.
There were a few hits in the game that went uncalled in the Rushs favor, including an elbow to the head of Stephon Thorne and a hit from behind on Jamie Lovell, which preceded a Rush goal.
Also, after Chris Auger came off the ice because of a broken skate, referee Zak Blazic forced the Komets to put three defensemen on the ice and that preceded another Rush goal.
Smith had 21 goals and 61 points in 55 games during the regular season and an assist in Game 1, which saw eight power plays for the Rush and three for the Komets. Kryzakos played alongside Smith last season, when they led now-defunct Bossier-Shreveport to the CHLs championship.
That Smith was able to play was fortunate for the short-handed Komets, who were without defenseman T.J. Miller (concussion) and defenseman Brent Henley.
Henley was serving the last part of his three-game suspension for sucker-punching Damien Surma and kneeing Brett Lutes of Dayton a week before.
Because of the Henley suspension, the Komets had to play with 17 players, one short of a full lineup. He will be available Wednesday for Game 3, the first of three straight games in Fort Wayne.
The Komets are the top-seeded team in the Turner Conference and Rapid City is fourth, but the series has an unusual 2-3-1-1 format because Disney on Ice was at Memorial Coliseum.
Goaltender Nick Boucher, who stopped 27 of 32 shots in Game 1, got the start Saturday again, instead of Gerry Festa.
They were the better team (in Game 1), Komets coach Al Sims, and well play better in Game 2.