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The Journal Gazette

  • Andy Morrison | The Blade Komets defenseman Cody Sol, No. 44, sends a shot past Toledo Walleye goaltender Jeff Lerg to force overtime Saturday in Game 2 of the Central Division finals. But Toledo would win on Dane Walters' power-play goal in overtime to cement a 4-3 victory and take a 2-0 series lead.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017 4:30 pm

On Komets' captain, for the fans

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

TOLEDO, Ohio – Here's what the Komets' captain, Jamie Schaafsma, who knows a thing or two about winning in the playoffs, had to say about the state of the team after a 4-3 overtime loss Saturday to the Toledo Walleye put them in a 2-0 series hole.

"You can’t get down," he said. "Obviously, guys are emotional and you’re upset after a loss. There’s so much on the line. The thing that I take from it is guys are competing here, guys want to win, guys are focused.

"Guys are going to make mistakes. It happens. But you’ve got to find a way to pick it up or kill a penalty or have (Pat Nagle) make a timely save for us, which he’s been doing.

"This is just the nature of the game. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but you’ve got to remain positive. I like this group and I really do like the game we’ve been playing for the last few games. I really think we’re playing good playoff hockey. If we can stick to that and find a way to get a little bit better, then we’ll be successful in these playoffs."

Game 3 is Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum and Game 4 is Friday.

I know it's a Wednesday game, but let me stress the importance for Game 3 as a Komets fan:

– The Komets simply must win these two games to have a hope of winning the series. I've thought all along it would be a long series and that if the Komets were to have a chance, Game 5 would be their best hope to steal a game in Toledo. But all of that is predicated on Fort Wayne taking care of business at home and chances of that are greatly improved by a large crowd.

–  I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but a lot of people question why the Komets' attendance often dips when the playoffs come. Before you kill me for that statement, I always explain that this is a fact of life in minor league hockey, and not unique to the Komets, because teams don't have as much time to advertise the games or work up fun promotions and group sales, fans haven't had the time to plan ahead and many of the games are on weekdays. But the Komets are known as the top-drawing team in the ECHL and their backs are against the wall, so if there's a time to show up, if you're able to, this is it. 

–  If that's not incentive enough, consider that the Walleye's home crowds have been amazing and that has been a huge boost for their players. Toledo fans have been traveling especially well lately, too, so much so that they were bragging about doing something Fort Wayne has done for decades – filling up Kalamazoo's own stadium – and you should shudder at the idea of the Toledo fans making a lot of noise at the Coliseum.

– The first two games of this series have been exciting. If Game 3 is as good, trust me, you're going to want to see it.

–  I'm not sure how much I buy into this, but a player did say it to me, so I'll pass it along. Do the ECHL's referees get influenced by the crowd a lot? Was that part of the reason for Shawn Szydlowski's overtime penalty, because the refs had gotten an earful about the uncalled hold late in regulation? If you buy into that idea, well, here's your chance to return the favor. It's part of home-ice advantage. 

–  Toledo is 0-3 on the road in the playoffs, but it had the most road victories in the league during the regular season. And it won both games at the Coliseum – 3-1 and 6-1.