INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Komets’ locker room was filled with difference perspectives after their 5-2 loss in Game 5 of the Turner Conference finals Saturday night to the Missouri Mavericks, who led all but 39 seconds of the game to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
There was forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, forehead against a wall, talking about how his team wasn’t mentally tough enough to sweep three straight games at the Independence Events Center.
“We didn’t come out strong,” Schrock said. “I think we were satisfied with winning two games, to be honest with you. … We played well in the second and third (periods), but this is a team that, even if we play our game, they can still beat us. If we don’t work hard, we’re going to be in trouble, and you saw what happened.”
There was center Jean-Michel Rizk, lukewarm on the whole outcome, saying the Mavericks are good but not that good – unless you give them such great scoring chances.
“I think our effort level wasn’t there,” said Rizk, who had four of the Komets’ 10 goals in Independence. “We came in, maybe, a little bit overconfident. And they’re a good team. We gave them turnovers and chances to score, and they’re going to bury them. We’ve got to be careful on the opportunities we give up.”
And there was center Brett Smith, all smiles because the Komets are down but heading home for the next two games, if there are two games.
“We obviously got caught flat-footed in the first period … but you know what? I’m in a great mood,” Smith said. “We just lost a hockey game but we came here to do one job and that was to bring (the series) back to Fort Wayne. And this was a successful trip. We took the 2 of 3 we needed to.
“If we were would have been down 3-1 and would have won the game tonight, we’d be high and kites right now going home down 3-2. Well, we’re going home down 3-2. We’ve got a good hockey team. We just didn’t play that well tonight.”
The Komets won 3-1 Wednesday and 5-4 in double overtime Thursday before getting outshot 32-26 in Game 5, in front of 4,691 fans.
“I thought the day off was good for us,” Missouri coach Scott Hillman said. “It’s no different than Fort Wayne losing two and then coming and playing really good hockey to beat us. I really believe these two teams are so well matched. … It’s a great series and part of it is that neither team had played each other for a few months going into this. There was a feeling-out process and I like the direction our team is heading.”
In every game of the series, the Mavericks have scored first.
On Saturday, it was John-Scott Dickson who did the damage. Forward Dale Mahovsky intercepted goaltender Nick Boucher’s clear around the boards and sent a pass to Dickson, who tucked in inside the left side from behind the net 39 seconds into the game.
As he had in the previous two games – both Fort Wayne victories in Independence – Rizk quickly answered for the Komets. Just after Fort Wayne killed off a power play, he beat goalie Charlie Effinger on a breakaway at 11:07.
While Fort Wayne was on a power play, forward Sebastien Thinel sent a pass through the Fort Wayne defense to forward Ed McGrane, who bested Boucher on a breakaway for a 2-1 lead at 13:20. And forward Brandon Smith made it 3-1 at 18:07, after defenseman Ryan Jardine’s shot caromed off the boards behind the Fort Wayne net and gave Brandon Smith an opportunity to jam the puck inside the right post.
Missouri totaled 16 of the first 22 shots.
The Komets pulled to within a goal 8:14 into the second period on defenseman Frankie DeAngelis’ shot from the point during a 5-on-3 power play, after referee Chris Pitoscia didn’t give Fort Wayne a penalty shot for forward Chris Auger getting pulled down from behind on a short-handed breakaway.
But the Mavericks answered for a 4-2 lead 3:28 later, after Thinel intercepted a pass at the Fort Wayne blue line, strolled in unfettered and beat Boucher with a shot from 15 feet out.
The Mavericks cemented the victory at 15:13 of the third period, when forward Kris Hogg scored on a 2-on-1 rush.
Hogg, McGrane and Thinel all had a goal and an assist.
Games 6 and 7, if necessary, are at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The Komets are 2-3 at the Coliseum in the playoffs, 0-2 in the series, while the Mavericks have won all four of their road games.
Notes: The Komets played without defenseman Bryant Molle, who was injured in overtime of the 5-4 double-overtime victory Thursday night. He is questionable to play Tuesday because of a knee injury. He was replaced by David Starenky, who hadn’t played since the Rapid City series because of a shoulder injury. Molle has two assists in 10 playoff games. Starenky has one assist in five games. The Komets also played without rookie forward Derek Roehl, who has played in one professional game.