Mad Ants coach Conner Henry called it "a playoff game in the regular season."
And that's exactly what it felt like, as the Mad Ants (28-15) defeated the Los Angeles D-Fenders 125-121 on Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum.
Both teams lead their divisions. Both teams have been hot. (Click here to read more about the game and watch video highlights.)
Los Angeles had won its previous five games. Fort Wayne has now won 11 of its last 13.
"It was an important game because that was a playoff team," Henry said. "And now, you go into a series and every possession is magnified, and you've got to keep your cool and adjust to referees' calls. You've got to execute and find the advantages on the court and I thought we did that. We exploited some matchups that we liked."
The Mad Ants, who have been to the playoffs only once before (last season), have seven games left in the regular season.
A game like this could be a taste of what's to come. (Click here to see photos from the game.)
Los Angeles (25-16), which plays a similar style to league-leading Rio Grande Valley, seemed to have the Mad Ants intimidated early on. But Fort Wayne soon got a feel for the flow of the game, realized it could run with the D-Fenders and even frustrated them (Shawne Williams was ejected after getting tangled up with Sadiel Rojas).
With the Komets struggling just to get into the ECHL playoffs, it's clear that the Mad Ants are Fort Wayne's best hope for a championship among their winter pro-sports teams.
A big reason is the Mad Ants' depth. Today, they had an NBA player, Jamaal Franklin, and maybe their most talented player, Tony Mitchell, come off the bench. That's amazing.