Al Sims: “This was the greatest comeback in Komets’ history”
FORT WAYNE–58 years is a long time. But Fort Wayne head coach Al Sims is convinced that the Komets’ three-goal rally in the final half of the third period was the greatest comeback in the history of the storied franchise.
The Rapid City Rush led 3-0 entering the final period of play Wednesday, and 4-1 midway through the third, but the Komets’, well known for their never say die attitude in elimination games, survived again.
For the second consecutive game in the series, Rapid City committed more than 13 penalties. The Fort Wayne special teams made them pay.
The Komets scored four goals in the third, three via the powerplay (one shorthanded), and the game-winner in overtime from Matt Curadeau also came with the man-advantage.
“Penalties,” Ferras told IDS when asked how the three-goal lead unraveled. “You can’t be up 4-1 in a hockey game and be taking penalties. They are costly when you are playing against a team that doesn’t quit. When you have a team down like that you have to step on their throat.”
The Komets’ finished 4-of-8 on the powerplay in Game 3, and the game-winning goal occurred shortly after the Rush went from a man-advantage to a man down because of a penalty.
“The powerplay was huge,” Fort Wayne head coach Al Sims told IDS. “To be down three goals twice with ten minutes to play, it’s probably the greatest comeback in Komets’ history.”
During the last three year’s, Fort Wayne is 7-0 when facing elimination, all of those wins came in the former IHL. For the better part of the three periods, the defending CHL champions dominated the game.
Rush lose for the 1st time all season when leading after two periods
(Photos Seth A. McConnell/IDS)
It’s been stated again and again. Rapid City was the only undefeated team in the CHL when leading after 40 minutes. Not after Game 3.
6,817 rowdy Fort Wayne fans were in attendance Wednesday night, but at the end of the second period, the largest arena in the league was silent. At the intermission some fans were on their way home.
Dave Grimson and Konrad Reeder combined twice in the opening nine minutes of the game to give the Rush a 2-0 lead.
Grimson fired a one-timer from just inside the blueline into the top corner only 2:05 in for the opening goal of the game. He then assisted Reeder for a powerplay goal at 11:02 when Grimson again let loose from long range and Reeder snuck in from below the goal line and put home the rebound.
5:33 into the second, Colt King scored Rapid City’s second powerplay goal when Les Reaney slid a perfect pass across the crease to King who was wide open in the blue paint. King has lit the lamp six times in the 2011 playoffs.
“We have a team that has been down 3-1 in a series two times over the last three years and we’ve come back and won them,” said Sims. “We still have a lot of guys left from those team’s and we never stopped believing.”
It took the Komets’ 43 minutes to beat Tim Boron. He was given the start in place of Danny Battochio who still isn’t yet 100 percent after suffering a lower body injury in Game 2.
Boron had stopped all 24 shots he had faced before Fort Wayne finally netted their first of the game.
Kaliegh Schrock tallied two powerplay goals for the Komets’, his second and third of the series. Shrock scored the opening goal of the game at 3:43 into the third only to see the Rush push the lead back to three when Andrew Smale finished Reaney’s lead pass just three minutes later.
After Fort Wayne’s Artem Podshendylov missed a penalty shot, Matt Ratchuk netted a shorthander for the Komets’ midway through the third period, cutting the Rush lead to 4-2.
In the final 11 minutes of the third period, Rapid City committed five penalties, Fort Wayne scored on two of them.
“We struggled on the back end tonight, no doubt about it,” said Ferras. “We were turning pucks over in the defensive zone and it can’t happen. We’re still in the drivers seat, and we have to be ready to go Friday. It will be a huge character test.”
Schrok cut the lead to one with 4:48 left in regulation when Boron couldn’t handle a DeAngelis shot. Schrok slid the loose puck into a wide open net. P.C. Drouin tied the game one minute and eight seconds later when he roofed a shot to the top-left corner for a powerplay goal to force overtime.
In the extra period, the Komets’ netminder Kevin Reiter was excellent. He helped kill off three Rush powerplays, saving six shots. Caradeau then ended it in sudden death with a snap shot past Boron from the top of the circle.
“Our goalie came up huge in OT, and it was a great goal to win it. Tim Boron didn’t have much of a chance,” said Sims. “It’s an unbelievable win for us and obviously it changes the whole complextion of the series.”
Reiter earned the win for Fort Wayne stopping 27-of-31 shots. Boron took the loss saving 41-of-45.
Drouin had a four-point night (1G, 3A) and DeAngelis had three helpers.
Grimson, Reeder, Reaney and Jesse Schultz all had two-point efforts for Rapid City.
Rapid City leads the series 2-1 and Game 4 will be Friday night in Fort Wayne at 6:05 p.m. MST..