Six weeks ago, I told Kent Hormann I’d probably pick Wichita to beat the Komets in the finals in five games. Nothing I’ve seen from the Thunder has caused me to change my mind too much about them.
But the Komets have changed my mind about a lot of things during the playoffs. They have played much better team defense and they’ve done a stronger job of protecting Nick Boucher in goal and not relying on him to just save their rear ends on every defensive lapse. I’ve also seen all the kids really grow up and become even better players since the end of the regular season. That’s not an easy thing to do.
I also forgot during the regular season that Colin Chaulk is a very good leader. During the playoffs, he’s a great leader. And this year he’s got plenty of help from Brett Smith, Kaleigh Schrock and Brent Henley as well. I also really like the way the guys who have been struggling offensively, guys like Leo Thomas, Bobby Chaumont, Smith and Stephon Thorne, are not getting into funks but are working even harder to contribute in other ways. Chaumont led the team in shots against Missouri and it seemed every time I looked up he was hustling to get back. Same with Leo, but we should expect that out of him in the playoffs. Even though they weren’t scoring much, they were positive factors in the games.
I’ve decided to pick the Komets in this series for two reasons: their previous championship experience and their pure tenacity. Those past championships have to be an advantage because a lot of these guys have performed in the biggest moments.
Also, Wichita hasn’t been through nearly as tough a playoffs as the Komets have. That can either hurt or help a team, and usually it hurts a team. That hasn’t been a problem for the Komets. They truly do seem to have the motto, ``whatever doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.’’ It was true from the Rapid City series, and it was true when they were down 2-0 to Missouri. Whenever this team faces a seemingly insurmountable challenge, they love it.
They can’t go down 0-2 against Wichita. They have to split the first two games, and their best bet is probably tonight. Wichita is an exceptional team and mirrors the Komets in many ways. It’s going to be fascinating to watch the coaches try working the match-ups.
This is a much better Fort Wayne team than it was six weeks ago, and sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct. I think the Komets will win the series in seven games and the last game will go to overtime.