FORT WAYNE – Many of the Komets had hoisted the IHLs Turner Cup, which was much bigger than the Ray Miron Presidents Cup.
So they were surprised at the light weight of the CHLs championship trophy.
Except for Komets center Brett Smith and defenseman Jamie Milam. The pair got to take a around a rink with the Presidents Cup for a second straight year.
Smitty and I wanted to go someplace where wed have the best chance to win, the best fans and the where the most fun would be, said Milam, who along with Smith won the Cup last year with Bossier-Shreveport, which suspended operations.
We got calls from most of the teams around the league. We talked about it only one time and knew this was the place we wanted to play. Theres a great tradition of winning, great building, great fans. This is where we wanted to be.
The Komets 6-3 victory Monday night in front of 9,560 fans at Memorial Coliseum gave them a 4-1 series victory over the regular-season champion Wichita Thunder.
It was Fort Waynes fourth title in five years, including three straight in the now-defunct IHL, and the ninth championship in 60 years of Komets hockey.
At the start of the season, we were hoping for the playoffs, Milam said. At the beginning of the playoffs, we knew there was a pretty good chance (of winning). When we got to this round, there was nothing stopping us. We put a really good team together. Our young guys caught up to the veterans. Our old guys caught up to the young guys legs. There was nothing going wrong for us.
Smith, who captained Bossier-Shreveport and was an alternate captain with the Komets, had three goals and 13 points in 17 playoff games. He battled through a neck injury suffered in the first playoff game on a hit from behind in Rapid City, S.D.
Milam had three goals and 12 points in 18 playoff games.
Its unbelievable, Smith said. I never thought Id be back on this stage. Its just amazing to win here in front of this tremendous city and tremendous crowd. I couldnt ask for anything more.
(Bossier-Shreveport) folding was obviously sad. Im a Mudbug for life. But coming here, this place turned me over and Im a Komet now. I loved every second of this year. Its a great group of guys. It couldnt have been a better group to win it with. Its awesome.
In the Komets first CHL season, they were in last place until February and made it to the second round of the playoffs – the Turner Conference semifinals – before losing to Rapid City.
Smith and Milam were a big part of the turnaround, which included winning the conference in the regular season and getting the Cup on Monday, after ousting Rapid City, Missouri and Wichita.
Im really proud of these guys because if you asked anyone at the start of the season, I dont think they would have thought we were going to win the championship, Milam said.