About once every two games, Komets goaltender Kenny Reiter will dive across his crease to throw his glove up or his stick out to make some spectacular save and rob an opponent who has already begun raising his stick in celebration. They were absolutely sure their shot was going into the net.
``EZ'' Reiter is quick enough to make these fascinating saves frequently, something Komets fans haven't seen or been this awed by since Kevin St. Pierre played in Fort Wayne half a decade ago. In fact, many fans have said some of Reiter's acrobatics remind them of one St. Pierre save in particular.
On Jan. 21, 2006, the Komets were playing Quad City in Fort Wayne with 1:09 left in the second period when St. Pierre made a save against the Mallards' Vince Malts and Olivier Proulx. After a turnover near the Komets' blue line, Malts set up Proulx 1-on-0 against St. Pierre.
``I remember Lance (Galbraith) was at the boards and was trying to get the puck out,'' St. Pierre said.`` I saw it coming. Both our 'D' started going up the ice, and I saw the one Quad City guy was right there. As soon as Lance couldn't get the puck out, I knew I was in trouble.''
As Proulx caught the pass on the left, St. Pierre slid out to challenge, but Proulx pulled the puck back and skated wide right to avoid St. Pierre and open up a backhand shot on the right side of the goal. With no other choice, St. Pierre leaned back and threw his right arm back across the crease to throw his stick out. The puck hit the paddle.
``I figured if he passes the puck, I'm going to cheat so I can go across faster so I don't get beat backdoor,'' St. Pierre said. ``I knew the guy was alone. As soon as the pass was made, I went, but he didn't shoot right away so he decided to go the other way, and at that point I figured I'd try to do whatever to try to get there.
``It hit my stick. If he had got it this much off the ice it would have went in, or if he had shot a half second later it would have went in. It's hard to explain.''
There was no planning on St. Pierre's part because the play happened too quickly. All he could do was react.
``It's kind of like you get something for Christmas and you are surprised,'' St. Pierre said. ``It just happened.
``He (Proulx) just skated by me and said, `How the hell did you do that?' and I'm just laughing. Even (Komets captain Colin Chaulk) Chaulker said, `Are you serious right now?' I just kept laughing. You just don't know what to say. I was just laughing. After it happened, I just ... I don't know how I did it, I did it, and I just laughed. I stood there after the whistle and just laughed.''
Because that save has been immortalized on YouTube and was once named one of the top 10 hockey saves of the decade, it will be remembered forever.
``It's like the funniest thing, too, every time you watch it, you can't watch it just once,'' St. Pierre said. ``It's pretty cool. If it would have happened anywhere else but in Fort Wayne, it probably wouldn't even be on YouTube. It was the second period and the camera angle was perfect. It was one of the games they were taping or it wouldn't have been caught on video.''
St. Pierre now lives outside Wichita, Kan., where he works as a truck driver. He attended some of the Komets' games in last year's Central Hockey League championship finals, and he still thinks of his years in Fort Wayne as the best of his career.
He still holds almost all the Komets' season and career goaltending records, and he also made a few other fascinating saves while playing for the Komets.
One time he ended up face-first on the ice and kicked the back of his left pad into the air to stop a puck with the back of his skate.
``For goalies, that happens a lot,'' St. Pierre said. ``I remember once in Port Huron they dumped the puck in, and you know how bad the rink was there. I went behind the net to stop it and it hit the boards and it was going to go in. I just jumped over the net and stuck my stick down to stop it.''
St. Pierre said the puck wasn't sliding very fast so he had time to reach over and plant his stick in the puck's path.
Asked to name what he thinks was his best save, St. Pierre remembers Game 5 of the 2006 playoffs against Rockford. The Komets trailed earlier in the series 3-1, and St. Pierre shaved off his playoff beard and declared the Komets weren't going to lose another game.
``There were 30 seconds left, and (Yannick) Tifu was alone, and I did a two-pad stack and stopped that puck.
``The one thing that I've got,'' St. Pierre said, ``I've got stories and souvenirs.''