PORT HURON, Mich. -- At the end of this post, you can listen to my postgame interview with Komets coach Al Sims. He's obviously upset, after his team lost 3-2 in overtime to the Port Huron Icehawks, putting his team down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Sims was flummoxed that the Komets could control so much of the play -- almost all the third period and overtime was spent in the Port Huron zone -- yet Fort Wayne lost, courtesy of a Jamie Lovell goal.
He won it on a slapshot from 30 feet out, after winning a center-ice battle for the puck with Jake Pence. That set off a 2-on-1 rush and sent the Komets home flabbergasted.
Well, if you control all of that play and only score two goals, it's clear to me, it's about finishing. The Komets aren't the offensive team right now we're accustomed to seeing.
The Komets were upset about the officiating on many levels. The first of which was that referee Bob Langdon awarded only three power plays all night, even as players were getting mugged all over the ice. I'm backing up the league on this one. This is the best referee in the International Hockey League. We all like him because he lets the players decide the game. Deal with it. You can't complain about Jim Hawthorne and Kevin Graber calling 20 power plays, then complain again because the opposite happens. That being said, there was a lot of dirty stuff going on out there, particularly by the Icehawks. (That means you, Larry Sterling, Steve Hildenbrand and B.J. Adams.)
OK, then there were the two controversial goals or, depending on how you view them, non-goals. Jeff Zehr got one for Port Huron when the puck ricocheted off his glove and went in. It counted and it should have. He made no batting motion to put it in; it was unintentional. It doesn't matter if it goes off his nose and in; if it's not on purpose, it counts.
Then there was the Konstantin Shafranov supposed goal that didn't count. Shafranov believes it went in, just under the cross bar. I was the lone non-IHL person who watched the replay about 20 times, at various speeds, and it appeared to hit the cross bar. It was grainy and it was from high up, but I'm pretty confident. And I showed it to some other people I trust, who have played the game at a high level, and they agreed -- no goal. So correct call there, too, it seems.
In the end, the Komets aren't scoring. They've been taken out of their game. The superstars aren't discernible right now. And we're two losses away from the biggest collapse in Fort Wayne sports history, if you ask me.
Here's audio from Sims: Download sims_game_2_loss.WMA
Audio from Lovell after his game-winner: Download jamie_lovell_game_2.WMA
-- By Justin A. Cohn, The Journal Gazette