This was like New Year's Eve when nobody really wanted to play the third period so they could start the party early.
The Fort Wayne Komets built a 3-0 lead after two periods and beat the Flint Generals 3-2 before a sellout Memorial Coliseum crowd of 10,480 fans. The win clinches the Komets' third International Hockey League Turner Cup title in a row, something that hasn't been done since the Cincinnati Mohawks on five titles in a row from 1953-57.
This wasn't a title defense as much as a smothering. Whenever the Generals got the puck, wherever they were on the ice, there was a Komets player there to challenge. Fort Wayne made all the easy plays and made everything difficult on Flint. The Komets had a 29-11 advantage in shots through two periods as goaltender Nick Boucher was getting a little lonely. The final shots total was 42-21.
The only way the Generals seemed to generate any offense was on the power play, and even there they couldn't get any clean looks on the net. There was a sense all night the Generals were just hanging on, hoping the Komets would make a critical mistake.
After a tight first 15 minutes, the Komets finally broke through when Turner Cup Most Valuable Player Matt Syroczynski scored a power-play goal from out front on a Justin Hodgman pass. It was Syroczynski's 11th goal in 12 playoff games. For the season, he scored 41 goals in 60 games.
The Komets put the game away in the second period as P.C. Drouin scored a pair of goals. He first nailed a slap shot from the blue line for a power play 6:44 into the period. Five minutes later Drouin scored again when he faked a long slap shot to slide around the defenseman for a nifty wrist shot from 25 feet over the shoulder of Flint goaltender Rob Nolan.
Drouin, who missed last year's playoffs with an injury, led the Komets in scoring during the playoffs with 18 points in 12 games. He was also outstanding defensively, compiling a plus-9 plus-minus rating.
As they did all season and throughout the postseason, the Generals rallied in the third period on goals by John Ronan and Jake Pence, but the Komets tightened up their defense again. After Flint pulled goaltender Nolan with 1:47 remaining, the Komets held the Generals without a shot on goal.
There were four one-goal games in the series, and the Komets won three of them.
The Komets will hold their annual end-of-season fan party and jersey auction at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, for the first time in the coliseum arena. The jersey auction will start at 7 p.m. The cost is $5 for non-season ticket holders.