INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Komets didn’t guarantee a victory in Game 3 of the Turner Conference finals Wednesday, but they came close.
And then they backed up their tough talk with a 3-1 victory in front of 5,321 fans at the Independence Events Center that trimmed the Missouri Mavericks’ lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
Was captain Colin Chaulk worried that he’d gone too far in saying, after losing the first two games at home, that the Komets had the Mavericks right where he wanted them Wednesday night?
Not at all, Chaulk said. Hey, they played a great game today and we played a great game today. We didn’t start the way we wanted, but hey, we believe we’re back in it.
Chaulk can thank two teammates, in particular: rookie Jean-Michel Rizk, who scored twice, and goaltender Nick Boucher, who stopped 31 of 32 shots after getting yanked early in the 6-3 loss in Game 2.
It was the best I’ve seen Bouch play, probably, since I’ve known him, said Fort Wayne coach Al Sims, and those are big words since he’s coached Boucher to three championships in five seasons.
Nick had to make saves tonight. It wasn’t us keeping the puck away from him. In the first period, they had quality chances and they could have had five or six goals.
Boucher wasn’t so sure it was his best game as a Komet.
I don’t know, he said. It was a good game for me, but I’ve had other games where I felt better than I did tonight and faced better chances. But it was a better one for me, sure.
But the Mavericks scored only once, when forward Ed McGrane netted a rebound 4:53 into the game. In the conference playoffs, the team that had scored first had won 10 of 12 games, including the first two games of this series.
That trend was bucked with Rizk’s goal from 15 feet out 6 minutes into the first period and his shot from the slot at 5:19 into the third, after Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock’s setup from behind the net.
Mavericks goalie Charlie Effinger stopped 39 of 41 shots – center Brett Smith had a later empty-net goal – after Effinger stopped 77 of 82 in the first two games.
Just shoot the puck, I guess, Rizk said, when asked how he solved Effinger. Those two shots, I don’t think he saw them. On those goals, Schrock and (Stephon Thorne) were in front, and I think that’s the secret – we have to take his vision away.
Game 4 is tonight at the Independence Events Center.
It’s always tough to come into somebody else’s barn when you’re down 2-0. But we got together before the game and tried to make sure we didn’t play nervous. That’s what we did the first couple of games. Once we got the nerves out of the way in the first couple of shifts, we calmed down, and we got the bounces. We need to keep that going.
Note: Chaulk got a late warning for using illegal gloves. He changed his equipment – he is notoriously picky about what he uses – and wouldn’t comment after the game about what referee Peter Tarnaris told him was illegal.