Lauren Lyssy | Special to The Journal Gazette The Komets’ Garrett Thompson fends off Allen’s Danny Federico on Thursday night.
Lauren Lyssy | Special to the Journal Gazette A mixup after the whistle results in penalties for both teams.
Saturday, May 21, 2016 4:32 pm
Avoiding retaliation penalties vital to K's
Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette
ALLEN, Texas – If you do a Google search for the most famous pacifists, people like the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and John Lennon will grace your computer screen. You probably will find neither hockey coach nor player.
Yet heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, the Komets are preaching the virtues of turning the other cheek if they want to steal another game at the Allen Event Center and even the series with the defending champion Allen Americans at 2.
"There are a couple guys aiming for (our) heads and stuff, slashing guys, dirty and chippy stuff," said forward Shawn Szydlowski, who suffered one of the bigger hits of the Komets’ 2-1 victory in Game 3 when he was checked in the head by Kyle Neuber.
"That’s their team. We didn’t retaliate (Thursday), stayed out of the penalty box, and they couldn’t get anything going on their power play. We were a better 5-on-5 team and that’s what happened."
We’re not just talking about taking penalties. Those can happen just from playing defense or going to the net hard. It’s about not getting distracted from trying to score and prevent goals.
In the first two games of the series, both at Memorial Coliseum, there were four fights, a pregame fracas, big hits and two important hindrances for the Komets, they got only six of the 19 power plays, and they lost both games.
So the top priority at the Allen Event Center was to stay out of the penalty box, and the Komets did so. Allen was scoreless in its only power play. Fort Wayne was 0 for 4, though it got two even-strength goals from Mike Embach.
This isn’t to say the Komets played squeaky clean, just ask Allen coach Steve Martinson, who lambasted the officials after the game by saying: "When (Mason Geertsen) clips the goalie going to the net, 20 feet in front of the ref and he’s staring right at it, and they don’t call it, it’s like, ‘OK, they’ve made up their mind they’re not going to call it.’ Hopefully, they have a different crew (tonight). All I want is if it’s a penalty, call it. It’s a penalty both ways."
A Garrett Meurs check on Vincent Arseneau, who then skated around leveling Komets, was also something that had the Americans irked. But unlike the first two games in which the Komets retaliated with regularity, they turned the other cheek in Game 3 and hope to keep doing that against Allen, which usually plays with an edge.
"We did a good job of staying fairly disciplined most of the game," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "We had to let a lot of stuff go. There were a lot of instances where we could have retaliated to something cheap. There were a lot of cheap shots that happened. But we kept our cool. That’s what we’ve got to do. We might have to eat some crap here to stay out of the box, but that’s what we’re willing to do."
Struggling with taking penalties was something that dogged the Komets in the regular season and early in the first round when they lost the first two games at home and then came back to beat Cincinnati in seven games. The Komets need to win tonight or Sunday to force the series back to the Coliseum, and if pacifism is the way to make that happen they say they’re willing.
"It’s one of the hardest things to do because you want to be tough," said defenseman Cody Corbett, who assisted on a goal and had one waved off Thursday because Jamie Schaafsma ran into the goalie outside of the crease.
"You don’t want to back down from anything. But in a series like this, where both power plays are hot like this, you have to be composed. You’ve just got to be relaxed. It’s one of those things that you’ve got to keep inside you. You just have to. You don’t want to take a penalty. You don’t want to put them on a power play, not with (league MVP) Chad Costello and all the guys they have. We can’t let that happen."