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Tailing the Komets

Sunday on-line story

Which for some reason never got posted. It's the first comment on this topic.

Posted in: Komets


Blake Sebring
Sun, 04/26/2009 - 10:31am

By Blake Sebring

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- As more than 700 Fort Wayne fans chanted "Let's go Komets!", the players came through the traditional post-series handshake line and raised their sticks in salute. Konstantin Shafranov of was first followed by Kevin Bertram, Jake Pence, Sean O'Connor, Danko Mironovic and Brad MacMillan.

All of them looked so tired it was an effort to raise their arms let alone their sticks.

The Komets outlasted the Kalamazoo Wings 5-3 on Saturday night in a grueling contest to take the Turner Cup semifinal series in six games. After a marathon first five games and two periods, the third period became a sprint as the Komets scored three goals to wipe out a 3-2 deficit.

Attempting to defend their Turner Cup title, the Komets will face Muskegon in the finals after the No. 3 seeds finished off No. 2 Port Huron in six games with a 5-2 win on Saturday. The Komets will have the home-ice advantage and hope to open the series on Thursday and Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. The official schedule will be announced Monday.

Scoreless through the first five games, Leo Thomas scored twice for the Komets, including the game-winner on a breakaway 2:39 into the third period.

"Usually I think about what I'm going to do on a breakaway, but I didn't this time and I buried it," Thomas said with a chuckle.

Thomas celebrated like he'd just been named an NFL No. 1 draft pick after the goal.

"Before the game started, we talked about some of the guys who have struggled in the series a little bit... and I said tonight they are going to have big nights," Komets coach Al Sims said. "One guy made me kind of a soothsayer. Leo came through and scored two huge goals and did a great job defensively. He blocked some shots and made some key plays at the defensive end. I think this was his best game of the series, and not just because he scored."

David Hukalo iced the game with 5:29 left when he broke up a pass at the Fort Wayne blue line to start a 2-on-1 with captain Guy Dupuis who gave it back to the veteran left winger. Huckalo kicked the puck to his stick and snapped a wrist shot past Kalamazoo netminder Joel Martin.

The Wings led 2-0 in the first period before the Komets rallied on a goal by Thomas off an assist from Colin Chaulk.

Then things got a little strange. With 6:58 remaining in the period, the clock stopped for about a minute which came into play in the final seconds of the period. Hukalo stole the puck behind the Kalamazoo net and passed out front to Brad MacMillan who drilled a slap shot past Martin as time expired. The goal light never came on, but the Wings did not protest, and replay showed the puck was on its way out by the time the green light came on to show time was expired.

"I think at 2-0 we could have collapsed and maybe lost the game in the first period," Komets coach Al Sims said. "Our team has been resilient all year, they came back and stayed positive. We knew that we were going to get plenty of chances to score, and it was just a matter of us bearing down on those chances."

Kalamazoo took a 3-2 lead when Mark Nebus got behind Komets defenseman Keith Rodger, but that was just about the Wings' last scoring chance as the Fort Wayne defense clamed down the rest of the game. The Wings were held to only two shots on goal through the first 10 minutes of the third period, and by then the Komets had taken the lead on a power-play goal by Justin Hodgman and Thomas's breakaway.

"It was a game in the third period where our team went out and wouldn't be denied," Sims said. "They really gave it everything they had."

Hit Somebody!!!
Sun, 04/26/2009 - 11:02am

Brad MacMillan deserves alot of credit....He is my series MVP. He was asked to step-up and take on a completely different role than he was allowed to play during the season and played solid. He needs re-signed and needs ice-time next season instead of 2 or 3 odd shifts and a fight. He has earned my respect and I will never forget what a job this guy did for his team. Kudos!!!