The Journal Gazette
Monday, May 16, 2016 10:02 pm

Komets know how to dig out of hole

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Komets have been in this position before, dropping the first two games of a series at Memorial Coliseum and needing to win two of three games on the road to keep the season alive.

It happened in the first round against the Cincinnati Cyclones as the Komets responded with an 8-0 victory in Game 3 before advancing in seven games.

"I’m not worried about going down there and playing in a new environment. It’s more about what we do and what we focus on this week, and if we can go down there and execute," forward Kyle Thomas said.

The Komets lost 5-3 and 3-2 in overtime to the defending champion Allen Americans to open the Western Conference finals.

"Obviously, we’ve put ourselves in a bad position. We’ve already proved, though, that we can dig ourselves out. Obviously, we’ve made it a bad habit, and we’ve got to get away from that, but we’ve got to go down there and take care of business. We’re a very good team, but I know there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s minds that we can do it."

However, there aren’t many comparisons that can be made between the Cincinnati series and this one. The Komets had proven success in Cincinnati, winning four of seven games in the regular season there. They’ve never played at Allen, Texas. And the Americans have a faster, more experienced lineup that includes the league’s MVP, Chad Costello, and a coach, Steve Martinson, who has won nine playoff championships.

The Komets have their veterans, too, such as Jamie Schaafsma, who captained Allen to the championship last season, goaltender Pat Nagle, who won a title with Florida and has stopped 85.4 percent of the shots he’s faced in the series, and Alex Belzile, who won a title with Alaska.

They believe if the Komets stop taking so many penalties, make sure to emphasize their forecheck over flashy offensive play and stop turning the puck over in their own zone, they’ll have success at the Allen Event Center.

"We’ve found ourselves here before. But a little pressure on us might allow us to keep it more simple and go from there," Nagle said.

In the playoffs, the Komets are 4-1 on the road, including their sweep of Utah in the second round, and the Americans are 5-2 at home.

"You never want to give up. You never want to lose belief in the group. We’ve got to stay focused and stay in the fight because it’s not over. I think everyone knows that, and I think we learned that in the first series," said Schaafsma, who added he’s been on teams that have successfully come back from worse deficits at 3-0.

"You don’t win the series in the first two games. It’s a matter of us learning how they play and how we can attempt to counter it. Man for man, we match up really well against this team, and we just maybe have to play a little smarter game at times. We’ve just got to get the puck out if they’re pressuring us. We’re looking to make a play, but we’ve got to sometimes just concede and get the puck into the neutral zone or out of our zone, out of the trouble territories."

Sign up for our Komets newsletter

Newsletter is sent Friday and Monday