INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – If there's one facet most impressive about the Komets of 2011-12, it's their resiliency.
As evidence, we present their 5-4 victory over the Missouri Mavericks in double overtime Thursday night at the Independence Events center, evening the best-of-seven Turner Conference finals at two games apiece.
- The Komets squandered a two-goal in the third period and gave up what appeared to be the game-winning, power-play goal to forward John-Scott Dickson with 1:04 remaining. But it took them only 26 seconds to answer, during a power play, with Colin Chaulk winning a faceoff back to defenseman Jamie Milam, who stick-handled to the middle of the zone and blasted a slap shot past goaltender Charlie Effinger
- The Komets were thoroughly outplayed in the first overtime, as goalie Nick Boucher had to make 11 acrobatic and breath-taking saves, as his teammates were obviously fatigued. The Komets have played 34 periods in the playoffs, six more than the Mavericks, who had a far less physical first-round series.
- In the second overtime, the Komets got the only power play of extra time – forward Dale Mahovsky tripped Jamie Lovell at center ice – and the Komets capitalized at the 2:47 mark. Chaulk faked a shot from the left circle and sent a crossing pass to defenseman Frankie DeAngelis, who scored into an open net.
"We never say die. I know it's cliché. But this team is the best team I've ever played on in that regard. Nobody ever thinks we're done."
After the game, Missouri coach Scott Hillman and Effinger, who stopped 46 of 51 shots, unleashed tirades in the direction of referee Boone Bruggman for his penalty call in overtime.
Missouri scored on 3 of 6 power plays, though, and Fort Wayne was 2 for 6.
"I found a seam and was going to the net and Chaulker just put it right on my tape. All I had to do was control it and put it in the empty net," DeAngelis said.
No one was happier with the win than Chaulk, the Komets' captain, who promised great things in Games 3, 4 and 5 on the road. The team has, thus far, delivered two victories.
"I don't want to sound cliché, but at this point, really, tired is for losers," Chaulk said. "You've got five months to rest, so you've got to, you know, go after it."
Game 5 is in Independence on Saturday. Game 6 is at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday, and tickets go on sale today at the Coliseum and through TicketMaster.
After winning 3-1 on Wednesday – center Jean-Michel Rizk scored twice – it was clear that the Komets were focused on coming out hard early in Game 4. They were hit everything in sight and kept the bulk of the play in the Missouri end, though the two biggest checks of the period came from Missouri's Patrick Schafer on Lovell and Mike Wakita on Fort Wayne's Bryant Molle, who was knocked out of the game in overtime with an apparent knee injury.
It wasn't until 8:25 of the second period that a team found the back of the net, when Missouri's Ed McGrane scored with a low shot from the right circle.
The Komets answered quickly, though, as they had after falling behind the previous night. And just like in Game 3, it was Rizk who answered, with a shot from the right circle.
Within the span of 2:42, the Komets built what seemed to be an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
Center Brett Smith took the puck end-to-end before sending a pass to forward Leo Thomas, who buried it beneath Effinger at 15:32. Thomas had only one point, an assist, in the series.
And as the Mavericks were busy jawing with Chaulk in the Fort Wayne end, an odd-man rush culminated with forward Chris Auger scoring into an open net at 16:28.
Coming into the game, Effinger had stopped 116 of 123 shots and not allowed more than three goals in a game or two goals in a period during the series.
Boucher had stopped 60 of 66 shots in the first three games and then turned away 40 of 44 on Thursday, but he succumbed to the Mavericks' rally in the third period.
Forward Andrew Courtney scored off the rebound of a Kris Hogg shot, while Milam was in the penalty box for a hit after the whistle. Courtney has three goals and a series-leading seven points.
Just after killing off another power play, the Komets allowed the equalizing goal to Mahovsky, who redirected defenseman David Simoes' shot from the point at 12:49.
After Komets defenseman Brent Henley got a penalty for tripping, the Mavericks got the goal from Dickson and the 4,357 fans thought, incorrectly, it was over.
Boucher's performance in overtime conjured up shades of Robbie Irons, Chuck Adamson, Pokey Reddick and Kevin St. Pierre, all of whom had legendary performances in the playoffs for Fort Wayne.
"They got some good chances and I was able to make some saves to keep the game going," said Boucher, who has backstopped the Komets to three IHL championships in five seasons. "It was a gutsy game for us. After going up 3-1 and then getting in penalty trouble, they found a way to tie it but we got the win. Hopefully the tied has turned and we'll start to get some breaks."
Notes: The Komets played without defenseman David Starenky (shoulder) and forward Derek Roehl (healthy). … After getting a warning for using illegal gloves in Game 3, Chaulk appeared to be wearing new ones that complied with CHL rules Thursday. … The referee was Boone Bruggman.