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Tailing the Komets

The greatest game I ever saw

We're coming up on the 20th anniversary of the Komets' Game 7 overtime win over the Indianapolis Ice in the first round of the 1991 playoffs. The Komets won a Game 7 overtime on the road, which they had never done before or since. There were five one-goal games and a two-goal game with an empty netter in the series and two of the games went to overtime. The road team won each of the last three games in three successive days.

It was also the most significant game in Komets' history. Why? Without it there never would have been the Anderson Game, or the renewed rivalry with Kalamazoo after Larry DePalma suckered Robin Bawa. Those came later that postseason. Later is also when the rest of Fort Wayne and not just the hardcore fans fell in love with the Komets. Average attendance that year was 4,798 -- until Colin Chin and Mike Stapleton got into a stick fight the last game of the regular season in Indy. Then each game of that series was a sellout in Fort Wayne. And the Komets might not have gained the playoff experience that carried them to the 1993 Turner Cup

Posted in: Komets


Blake Sebring
Sat, 04/16/2011 - 10:58am

April 22, 1991


All series long, the Indianapolis Ice had harassed Lonnie Loach with a checking line of Martin Desjardins, Dan Vincelette and Tracy Egeland. They pounded the International Hockey League's leading scoring in the corners, in front of the play and behind the play.

''I have never gotten hit in the head so much with sticks in all my life," Loach said.

As much as the Ice players pounded on Loach, he delivered the killing blow in the 4-3 victory. With 1:40 left in overtime last night in Game 7 of the IHL quarterfinal playoff series, Loach took a pass from Robin Bawa and cut between two defenders. Indianapolis defenseman Cam Russell grabbed Loach's right arm, pulling him across the crease, but Loach redirected the puck through the legs of Ice goalie Jimmy Waite to shock a State Fairgrounds crowd of 4,408.

The goal, Loach's second of the game, knocked the defending Turner Cup champions out of the playoffs and sent the Komets to the semifinals against Kalamazoo starting Wednesday. It also ended a series of struggle for Loach.

''I was trying too hard and putting too much pressure on myself," Loach said.

He got some advice from his old junior league coach, who was visiting, and Komets Coach Al Sims.

''I told Lonnie to quit worrying about scoring a lot, just score the big ones," Sims said.

Indianapolis also made a mistake. In an attempt to free the Ice's big scoring line of Sean Williams, Brian Noonan and Marty Nanne, Ice Coach Dave McDowell sent them out against the Komets' top line of Bruce Boudreau, Stu Burnie and Loach, hoping that line would make a mistake to give Indianapolis a chance. For the first time in the series, Loach was free to roam without a stick in his back. Appropriately, Komets heavyweights Robin Bawa and Kevin Kaminski, who did a lot of the physical work in the series, got assists on Loach's game-winner. The goal marked the end of a tremendous series, the only IHL quarterfinal matchup to go seven games. There were five one-goal games and one two-goal margin. The Komets won Games 5 and 7 by one goal in Indianapolis after the Ice won Game 6 in Fort Wayne on Saturday night 4-3.

After playing seven games in 10 days - three of them over the weekend - the Komets fought off fatigue as much as the Ice at the end of the first period and the start of the second. Komets players used their sticks to hook Indy players to tow along down the ice, stood up on defense trying to catch their breath and iced the puck frequently to stop play.

Trailing 1-0 after the first period, a break gave the Komets some life. The Komets threw the puck in the Indy zone, and the Ice players expected an icing call that never came. Boudreau tried a shot on goal that whistled by wide, but the rebounds bounced off the boards to Loach, who stuffed it in.

The goal sparked the Komets, who were more aggressive on forechecking. Less than three minutes after Loach's first goal, Dan Lambert deflected into the net Jean Marc Richard's shot from the point. Ian Boyce shoveled in the third goal two minutes later off a scramble in front.

Stephane Beauregard was outstanding in goal, picking up the Komets defenders with diving saves and stoning the Indy attackers. On one play, Beauregard was knocked out of the crease as the puck crossed ice, but dived across the goal to throw a glove up and deflect a shot by Williams.

The Ice started its comeback early in the third period, scoring on a controversial goal. With a scramble in front of the crease because of a Komets player's sloppy pass, an Indy player shoved Beauregard back into the goal with a forearm shiver and Noonan stuffed in the goal.

Noonan scored again with 8:49 left to tie the game, carrying two defensemen with him and poking the puck past Beauregard.

After the overtime intermission, the Komets came out like a new team, forechecking and forcing the action all over the Ice. Indy outshot the K's in the overtime 8-5, but the Komets had better scoring chances.

''I told them that no matter what happens out there we've had a very successful season," Sims said. "Don't worry about making a mistake, don't worry about giving the puck away, just go out there and play hard. I didn't want them to be nervous, and somehow we just dug down."

Somehow, the Komets found the energy.

''We wanted to beat these guys so badly," Boyce said. "It's a big rivalry." ''It wasn't so much extra energy, but a will," said Boudreau, the 36- year-old veteran. "It's all in the mind, the refusal to let anybody beat us. We've got that attitude, and I've only seen that a couple of times on teams."

Sat, 04/16/2011 - 12:23pm

Blake, it was a fabulous game. I was there. I never will forget it. It lead to the Anderson game, as you said. That was the greatest performance by one player that I ever saw.

Sat, 04/16/2011 - 6:44pm

I would like to know if there is any video of the last few minutes of the Depalma game?

Blake Sebring
Sat, 04/16/2011 - 6:51pm

I've never seen any. Dave, got any audio of that one?

Sat, 04/16/2011 - 8:07pm

Yes their is..got the full brawl on video-
!!! also you can find it on best of killer kaminski vol.1 if im correct!!!

Andrew Landgraf
Mon, 04/18/2011 - 1:36pm

Very well said Blake. I was 17 at the time playing softball that night. I remember taking a small radio out to left field with me to listen to the game. When Loach scored that goal in overtime, komet hockey was takin to a whole other level. The players on that team were a group of vagabonds and the rivalries were absolutely amazing. I remember fans camping out for playoff tickets that year...not so much to be first in line...but to just be with other fans all night long going crazy about this group of ragamuffins, who had captured a city. Komet fever was just beginning and you knew it would stick around awhile. Thats so awesome you were there...I couldnt imagine being at that game live.