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Key matchup of finals: goaltending

A healthy debate throughout the regular season and the playoffs among CHL fans has been: Who is the better goaltender, Fort Wayne's Nick Boucher or Wichita's Adam Russo?

Now that they're meeting in the President's Cup Finals, which start Saturday in Wichita, Kan., we'll get to find out.

Boucher's résumé is more impressive. He's backstopped the Komets to three IHL championships in his five seasons with the team, and he's gotten them to the finals this season. Along the way, he's been in net as the Komets came back from 3-1 series deficits in the 2008 finals and 2010 semifinals, and as the Komets recovered from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against Missouri in the last round.

However, he's had some bad games in these playoffs. He's 8-4-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. When the chips are down, though, Boucher comes up big, as he did in the Games 6 and 7 victories over the Mavericks.

Much of Russo's career has been spent in Europe, where he won two championships. And he played for Italy in the World Hockey Championships, so he's no stranger to performing on a big stage.

But he also hasn't faced a team in the playoffs this year capable of the offensive onslaughts the Komets will throw at him. In the playoffs, Russo is 8-3-0 with a .922 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA against Rio Grande Valley and Texas.

In the regular season, Russo was 27-11-3 with a .910 save percentage, a 2.61 GAA and three shutouts. Boucher was 32-12-4 with a .919 save percentage, a 2.44 GAA and three shutouts.

So both goalies are workhorses.

With the Komets coming off two grueling series and having only one day to rest, Boucher is going to have to save the Komets more than Russo probably will.

Russo has already lambasted Boucher on Twitter for Boucher's sucker-punch in a regular-season game against Bloomington. Boucher took the high road and didn't respond, so who will have the last laugh?


The Komets' Brett Smith and Wichita's Matt Robinson are two of the most respected players in the league, both for their skills and their leadership.

Smith had 20 goals, 61 points and a plus-13 rating in 55 regular-season games, and his production has dropped off in the playoffs to three goals, eight points and plus-4 rating in 12 games because of a neck injury suffered on a Jeff Kyrzakos hit in the first round.

Robinson had 34 goals, 58 points and a plus-20 rating in 64 regular-season games – many thought he should have won MVP instead of QuadCity's Brandon Marino – and he has two goals, six points and a plus-2 rating in 11 playoff games.

It will be fun to see Smith and Robinson chasing each other all over the ice.


Both teams have a pair of great offensive defensemen.

Frankie DeAngelis and Jamie Milam combined for 38 goals and 89 points in the regular season. Jarred Mohr and Daniel Tetrault combined for 13 goals and 59 points.

Both teams rely on offense starting from the blue line, particularly on the power play, so these guys will be important, as will Fort Wayne's Jamie Lovell and Wichita's Kevin Young.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at