INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The eyes of Komets goaltender Nick Boucher scanned the locker room, first to Colin Chaulk, Brent Henley, Frankie DeAngelis, Leo Thomas and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, players with whom hes won championships. Then, he looked at Brett Smith and Jamie Milam, who won the CHLs championship with Bossier-Shreveport last year.
The history of these men, Boucher said, explains how the Komets have been able to fight through these playoffs and fatigue to pull even with the Missouri Mavericks in the Turner Conference finals.
A 5-4 double-overtime victory Thursday night, courtesy of DeAngelis power-play goal, put the best-of-seven series at 2-all heading into todays Game 5 at the Independence Events Center.
After dropping the series first two games at home, the Komets have come back from early deficits to win the last two on the road. On Thursday, they coughed up a two-goal third-period lead and forced overtime on Milams power-play goal with 22 seconds remaining in regulation time, just 42 seconds after the Mavericks had seemingly won it.
The Komets have played 34 periods in the playoffs, six more than the Mavericks, who had a less-physical first-round series than Fort Wayne had with Rapid City.
Yeah, the Komets are tired, but they claim they know how to deal with it.
Look at Smith and Milam, Boucher said. They were (30) minutes away from being out of the playoffs last year (in the Berry Conference semifinals) and they wound up coming back in the game, in the series (with Tulsa) and winning the Cup.
(Jamie Lovell), hes been in a lot of battles. Weve got a lot of older guys who have been there and been through battles. You try to use that experience to your advantage in times like this where things go bad and guys are maybe hanging their heads a little bit. It really is, truly, a marathon. Its not a sprint. It takes four games to win the series. We could have folded it up, but no way would we do that.
The Komets are trying to become only the second team in CHL history to successfully recover from a 2-0 deficit.
Austin accomplished the feat against El Paso in 2002. Seventeen other teams failed.
Fort Wayne will likely be without defenseman Bryant Molle tonight after he was knocked out of Game 4 late with an apparent knee injury. The Komets may look to David Starenky, who has yet to play in the series because of a shoulder injury, or they could use just five defensemen and dress rookie forward Derek Roehl.
Weve got young guys on this team, and weve got some gamers, guys who have gone a long way in the playoffs, Milam said. We know how to (use) our energy and play this kind of game. We (got a day off) and some rest. Were not saving energy. Were going to keep going at it, all series, all playoffs.
The Komets won IHL championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010 – twice recovering from 3-1 deficits – and they know the little tricks to staying sharp.
Its these times right now, anybody who has played at an older age, played a lot of playoff games, knows youve got to take care of your body and get some fuel in your tank, Chaulk said. Pedialyte, water, Gatorade, coconut water, whatever your thing is. Get some rest, ice your body, stretch – do whatever it is you have to do to get yourself ready.