The résumé of Komets center Colin Chaulk is chock full of terrific performances in pivotal games, and Tuesday will go down as one of the best.
Not because of his statistics – he had only one goal – but because of the way he came out in the first period. Chaulk hit every opponent in sight to lead the Komets to a 4-1 victory over the Missouri Mavericks in Game 6 of the Turner Conference finals in front of 6,060 fans that forced a decisive Game 7 Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.
Hes our leader, and hes been like that all year, said forward Bobby Chaumont, who also scored, along with defenseman Jamie Milam and forward Mike Vaskivuo.
When (Chaulk) talks, guys listen. And he backs it up. He went out there and – hes not a physical guy – but he goes out there and does his thing and guys follow. You see him do that and thats why hes a great leader.
The Komets hadnt scored first in the series but did so 12:28 into the first period when Milam got his own rebound, faked a shot and slipped the puck inside the left goalpost from behind goalie Charlie Effinger.
The Komets scored the first four goals before forward Dale Mahovsky scored off a rebound on a power play for the Mavericks 13:51 into the third period.
Effinger stopped 43 of 47 shots. Fort Waynes Nick Boucher stopped 31 of 32.
Weve done nothing but earn two more days pay, Chaulk said. I think weve made Central Hockey League noise, but its not very loud.
All four of the Komets goals came off rebounds with traffic in front of Effinger, something Chaulk had been preaching to his teammates to make happen incessantly since the 5-2 Game 5 loss Saturday night.
Chaulker, great captain that he is, hes been telling us every single day we need to get pucks on this guy and we need to get traffic, said Vaskivuo, who had two assists. And the bounces came tonight, so we were good.
The Komets have a 7-3 record in Game 7s, and theyve won three in a row – against Rockford in the 2005 UHL semifinals, against Port Huron in the 2008 IHL finals and against Port Huron in the 2010 IHL semifinals. In all three of those series, the Komets came back from 3-1 deficits.
If the Komets win this Game 7, they will earn a spot in the Presidents Cup finals against the Wichita Thunder and become only the sixth team to successfully come back from a 0-2 deficit in a best-of-seven series out of 59 tries in the history of the CHL/Western Professional Hockey League.
Chaulk, who has led the Komets to four playoff championships since 2003, knew his team had to come out with energy early. Fort Wayne had lost 2 of 5 playoff games at the Coliseum before winning Games 3 and 4 on the road.
I wasnt really happy with my play in the three games in Missouri, said Chaulk, who has three goals and eight points in 12 playoff games. You didnt even know I was out there unless you knew my number and last name. I needed to put together a good performance and lead by example. Its easy to go out there and tell a guy to smash someones head, but its another thing when you do it yourself.
And Chaulks message is to remain focused.
We cant get too high from this (victory), Vaskivuo said. Well enjoy this for a half an hour, but then its another day.