WICHITA, Kans. – Maybe tonight in Game 2 the Fort Wayne Komets should try playing with one skate untied.
It's doubtful they could face a tougher situation than they did in Game 1 of the Central Hockey League's Ray Miron Presidents' Cup Finals. After beating Missouri in Game 7 of the semifinals on Thursday, the Komets had to travel 15 hours on Friday and then take on the team with the best home record in the league.
The Komets proved their resilience with a 5-3 win over the Wichita Thunder as Chris Auger and Nick Boucher were the stars. Auger scored twice, and Boucher made 30 saves as the Komets stole the home-ice advantage away from the Thunder.
``It was just a tremendous effort by the guys, especially Nick Boucher,'' Komets coach Al Sims said. ``Bouch was the first star, and Aug found a way again to get another goal for us. We made a few mental mistakes tonight that cost us goals, and we usually don't do that. It was a hard-fought game against a team that was 6-0 at home and the best road team in the league, and the road team got it.''
After first-period goals by Jamie Milam and Bobby Chaumont, the Komets led until the Thunder tied it 3-3 at the end of the second period. The obviously exhausted Komets were back on their skates at the start of the third period, but Boucher saved them several times with big saves.
``Obviously, I don't think we came out as strong as we could have in the first period,'' Wichita coach Kevin McClelland said. ``We didn't get pucks deep, a lot of turnovers and didn't generate anything. Second period, we were a little bit better and first part of the third period we had a couple of opportunities to take the lead for the first time, but Boucher stood tall.''
After scoring the Komets' third goal, Auger gave them the lead for good in the third period, taking a drop pass from Colin Chaulk and blasting a long slap shot past Thunder goaltender Adam Russo.
``We were able to come into the middle, and Chaulk was able to leave it at a spot for me to really get a good shot on,'' Auger said. ``I closed my eyes and shot really hard. I thought Russo really fought the puck tonight and any shot was a good shot. I got a lot of wood on it, and before I knew it was in the net. It was the exact same play we did six or seven times against Missouri and Charlie (Effinger) was able to stonewall me, so it was nice to get one of those.''
Russo finished with 21 saves.
``We had a little bit of a loose gap on their game-winning goal,'' McClelland said. ``We should have been up a little tighter, but that was a good shot that beat Russo.''
Thomas Beauregard scored twice for the Thunder.
Chaulk had three assists on a night when he broke Guy Dupuis's Komets' career playoff games mark with his 95th start. Brett Smith and Mike Vaskivuo each added two assists. Jamie Lovell scored the empty-net goal