After his team defeated the Muskegon Fury 3-0 on Friday night, to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven International Hockey League semifinals series, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims had this to say: "What a great time for the best goalie in the league to get a shutout."
Whoa. That was interesting on many levels.
First of all, it was Fort Wayne's Kevin Reiter, not Nick Boucher, who won the Best Goaltender Award this season. So it was interesting to actually hear someone voice that Boucher is superior. But secondly, it summed up the victory. Boucher was so-so in his previous playoff appearance, the 4-3 loss at Muskegon in Game 2, which was more memorable for Boucher getting into a mid-game scuffle with teammate Kevin Bertram, and this brought Boucher some redemption.
But it wasn't just him. The entire defense was solid. Much, much more like the Komets of the regular season, eh? So I would expect Boucher to get the start Saturday at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich.
If we've learned anything from this series, which has seen the home team win every game, it's that the Komets are a different team on the road. What they want to do now is not have the penalty marred, defensively absent hiccup in the middle of the game that's dogged them the last two trips up there.
I gotta say, I still think we're back here for Game 7 on Tuesday. Why? Because I don't get the impression Muskegon came away from this game thinking they can't play with the Komets, just because they were shutout. This was closely matched, it's just that Muskegon didn't get a lot of great offensive opportunities. But there were a few; it's just that the so-called best goalie in the league snubbed them.
By the way, the Port Huron Icehawks won the other semifinals series 4-1, thanks to a 4-3 overtime victory Friday. Josh Aspelind had the winner.
- Best players for the Komets tonight, in order: Boucher, Matt Reynolds, Brent Henley, David Hukalo, Justin Hodgman. Best players for the Fury: Clayton Pool, Dan Riedel, Dave Van Drunen, Bill Zalba.
- The Komets' Colin Chaulk lucked out in the second period, getting only a minor penalty for tripping, after he drove Kyle Kos head-first into the boards. I wouldn't have had a problem with a double-minor or even a major penalty. A couple of minutes later, Chaulk did get a double-minor, for high-sticking Dave Van Drunen.
- Kudos to referee Craig Welker for a game well called.
- Congrats to Bill Schwartz (aka Steve Fletcher), the Ice Chips reader who won the musical chairs competition in the second intermission. Cheater! I must give kudos to Hoss for his grab-the-chair -and-run-away-with-it method. And Conley? Wow, time for a diet if you're breaking the chair. Kidding, I'm kidding.
- Tonight's game will be replayed on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. on Comcast 55 and Verizon 25.
- Brace yourselves: I'm hearing if the Komets advance to the final, it'll be another 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 series. But that's just preliminary speculation and could definitely change. If I were the Komets, though, especially having seen what's happened in this back-and-forth series, I'd lobby hard for a 2-3-2.
- Check out this story from the Port Huron Times-Herald.
- Holy Toledo: A game with five overtimes? And it didn't involve the Washington Capitals?
-- By Justin A. Cohn, The Journal Gazette