FORT WAYNE – Ask the Komets whether they believe they can recover from a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-seven Turner Conference finals, and you will get a resounding yes.
Our team believes we can beat this hockey team, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said.
The Komets, the top seeds in the conference, have outshot third-seeded Missouri 82-51 but have been outscored 9-5.
So why are the Komets down?
Forgetting about the controversial penalty shot with 19 seconds remaining in regulation of the Mavericks’ 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 at Memorial Coliseum, the Komet say goaltender Charlie Effinger is one reason for the deficit.
And some bad luck.
Their goaltender is playing well, sure, but how many lucky goals have they had? Komets captain Colin Chaulk said.
The Mavericks have had one goal off a rebound, one off an Ed McGrane penalty shot, one because of a turnover near the net, two on shots from the right boards that all-star goaltender Nick Boucher probably should have stopped and one empty-netter.
That leaves one goal off a rebound (Andrew Courtney), one on blistering shot from the right circle (Patrick Schafer) and one when Brandon Smith won a race to the puck and beat Gerry Festa top-shelf.
The Komets have dominated the action, only to be stonewalled by Effinger. The Komets believe that cannot last as the series shifts to Independence, Mo., starting Wednesday night.
We’re working for every one we get, and it’s going to be that much more satisfying when you accomplish what you’re setting out to do, Chaulk said. Anything you do in life, when you work hard and those endorphins kick in, and you get to the end, you feel good about yourself. I feel good about myself. I feel good about this team right now.
The Komets were the second-best road team in the CHL this season, going 21-11-1, and they were 2-1 at Rapid City, S.D., in the first round of the playoffs. Missouri was the worst playoff team at home in the regular season, going 19-11-3, though it was 2-0 in its first-round sweep of Evansville.
Hence, the Komets’ confidence and their determination to not change a thing at the 5,800-seat Independence Events Center.
I don’t know why we would change strategy with the scoring chances we’re getting, Sims said. We’ve got to finish chances around the net. Their goaltender is playing well and that’s been the difference in this series so far.
If the Komets had a warning for Effinger, it’s that he better be rested because he’s going to face an offensive assault.
We sat back too much (against Rapid City) and promised ourselves we weren’t going to sit back in this series or crawl into a shell and we haven’t done that, Chaulk said.