Whenever the Fort Wayne Komets need a big win, they should play goaltender Nick Boucher in Port Huron. Boucher made 28 saves on Tuesday night as the Komets won 3-2 in Port Huron.
Boucher is now 7-0 in Port Huron during two seasons as a Komet, with a 2.43 goals against average and .930 save percentage. The Komets are now 10-1 at Port Huron over the last two regular seasons.
"I think it's confidence for Nick," Komets coach Al Sims said. "It's the same as our team. We've won four in a row in this building (going back to last year's playoffs), and we have a psychological edge here. We feel like we're going to win, and I think they feel like they are going to lose. It's just one of those weird things."
The bigger psychological edge may come from the Komets' defense which has turned things around. After giiving up 33 goals during a 2-5 slide, the Komets have rebounded to go 4-3-1 by giving up just 18 goals. They held the International Hockey League's top-shooting team to only six third-period shots on its home ice Tuesday night while protecing a one-goal lead throughout the period.
"It's been the play of our goaltending, and I think our young defensemen are starting to know how to respond to pressure," Sims said. "They are starting to figure it out. We really handled Port Huron's pressure in the third period."
The Komets also killed of four Port Huron power plays to stretch their streak to 34-straight successful penalty kills. They lead the IHL at 87.8 percent on the penalty kill.
The win jumps the Komets from fourth to third place and pulls them within two points of first-place Muskegon and one point of second-place Port Huron. Port Huron could have taken over first place with a win as four points separate the top four teams in the IHL The Komets can move up even further when they play at Flint on Thursday before playing at Muskegon on Friday.
"Now we have a chance to maybe play Muskegon for first place on Friday night," Sims said.
The Komets got a huge break on the game-winning goal as a dump-in hit a stanchion behind the Port Huron goal. Icehawks goaltender Larry Sterling went behind the net to play the puck, but it bounced directly to Komets' forward Sean O'Connor in front of the third for his third goal of the season. The Komets also got defenseman Jay Holladay's first goal of the season and P.C. Drouin's 14 which ranks second in the IHL. Drouin has scored at least one point in six straight games, with three goals and six assists.