RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Defenseman Jamie Lovell will go down in history for having one of the most amazing goals in the Komets' 60-year playoff history.
As he was readying to absorb a hit from Rapid City's Andrew Smale, he fired the puck down the ice and it beat goaltender Tim Boron after taking a funny hop. It was the first goal in what would be a 4-3 overtime victory Tuesday for the Komets, who eliminated the Rush and earned a spot in the Turner Conference finals.
"I was passing the puck. I was passing to Bobby Chaumont," Lovell said. "I knew I was going to take a hit. Chaumont was streaking through the middle, so I sent it up ice. Then I'm on my ass and I look up and the red light is on."
It was unexpected, but some would argue Lovell's entire playoffs have been.
Lovell, 29, was inconsistent in the regular season, often turning the puck over and helping to set up opposing goals. But he showed glimpses of brilliance – he had five goals and 23 points in 60 games – and the Komets remembered he was always a magnificent performer in the playoffs for rival Port Huron in the IHL.
He has intensified his physical play in the postseason, produced one goal and four points in six games, and he's helped the Komets to a 4-2 series victory over the rival Rush.
"He's been tremendous. His game has picked up. His physicality has picked up. He's just been a stalwart for us," Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
The Komets, who are the top seeds in the conference, play the third-seeded Missouri Mavericks on Friday and Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. The Mavericks haven't played since completing a sweep of Evansville on April 2.
The Komets weren't about to feel badly about Lovell's odd goal. They gave up a strange one, too, in Game 3's 3-1 victory, when the Rush dumped the puck in from the blue line and it caromed off the Coliseum dasher boards wildly to give Collin Circelli an open net at which to shoot.
"Maybe the Hockey Gods were trying to say something that maybe (Tuesday) was our night," Sims said. "We got one that maybe we didn't deserve, but we certainly won it when it was all even going into overtime."
Center Colin Chaulk scored 51 seconds into overtime after a centering pass from Mike Vaskivuo, though Chaulk said Rush defenseman Michael Couch swatted it past Boron.
While with Port Huron, Lovell had twice experienced a team coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to win. That team was Fort Wayne, in the 2008 IHL finals and 2010 semifinals. He was happy to do his part to make sure the Rush didn't do that against the Komets this year.
"Playoffs are the playoffs and I want to (expletive) win," Lovell said. "That's all I want to do and this is our greatest chance and I'm going to put it all out there."