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Last updated: Tue. May. 06, 2014 - 10:40 am EDT

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The 10 most important playoff games in Komets franchise history

Team played 500th playoff game all-time Saturday

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For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

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ECHL Conference Semifinals

Game 3

Cincinnati at Komets

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM

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Saturday's Game 2 in Cincinnati was the 500th playoff game in the Komets' 62-year history. Maybe being a road game was appropriate since it always seems like road wins are more monumental during the postseason, though the Komets have clinched eight of their nine playoff championships in Memorial Coliseum.

So, to celebrate the occasion, here's a top 10 list of one person's most important ones. Feel free to disagree or join the debate at http://www.tailingthekomets.com.

Among the great games that did not make this list are the April 23, 1963 win over Minneapolis for the Komets' first playoff championship, the April 27, 1965 win over Des Moines for a second Turner Cup or the May 21, 1993 sweep-clinching 6-1 win over San Diego. We also left out May 10, 2005 when Jonathan Goodwin and Rob Guinn helped the Komets beat Rockford 2-1 in overtime of Game 7, the May 8, 2009 4-1 win over Muskegon and the May 15, 2010 3-2 win over Flint which were part of the IHL three-peat.

10. APRIL 26, 2012

Komets 6, Missouri 4: This Game 7 was a much better game than the Game 5 Presidents Cup Finals clincher against Wichita as Nick Boucher overcomes a morning knee injury to out-duel Charlie Effinger in a classic. The outcome wasn't decided until Chris Auger's empty-net goal with 28 seconds remaining, and even then, everyone was afraid to relax. The Komets outshot the Mavericks 47-32 and Auger scored twice. Bobby Chaumont's power-play goal early in the third period broke a 3-3 tie.

9. APRIL 9, 1963

Komets 7, Muskegon 6 OT: Fort Wayne led the series 3-2, but gave up six consecutive goals to fall behind 6-1 early in the second period of Game 6. Two short-handed goals by Len Thornson got the Komets back into it and then Bobby Rivard and Norm Waslawski scored in the third period to force overtime. Then Eddie Long made a brilliant, game-saving stop in overtime behind Chuck Adamson and Roger Maisonneuve buried a faceoff from Waslawski to win it.

8. APRIL 15, 1973

Komets 5, Port Huron 1: The only time the Komets have clinched a championship on the road, beating Port Huron 5-1 in front of 13 busloads of Fort Wayne fans to complete a sweep. With 22 games left in the regular season, the Komets were coasting in second place with a 31-19-2 record when they caught fire, going 17-4-1 to capture the Huber Trophy as regular-season champs. Bob Fitchner, Don Atchison and Marc Boileau became Fort Wayne legends.

7. MAY 4, 2003

Komets 2, Quad City 1 OT: Off passes from Bobby Stewart and Ryan Severson, Dustin Virag scored 39 seconds into overtime as the Komets beat their long-time nemesis to win their only United Hockey League title in front of a league and Komets' record crowd of 10,593. . On consecutive nights in two cities, playoff Most Valuable Player Tom Lawson stopped 59 of 60 Quad City shots. What's amazing is the Komets missed the 2002 playoffs.

6. MAY 17, 1991

Komets 5, Peoria 2: Say "John Anderson Game" and every Komets fan knows what it signifies. With 73 points, the 34-year-old right wing had been the International Hockey League's leading scorer through the first 51 games, but a deep thigh bruise on his right leg suffered Jan. 26 caused calcium deposits to form on top of the bone. With the Komets trailing 3-0 in the series, Anderson returned sans helmet to score a hat trick against Peoria in two periods.

5. MAY 19, 1993

Komets 3, San Diego 2: After taking a pass from Carey Lucyk, Scott Gruhl cuts across the blue line to blast a slap shot past San Diego goaltender Clint Malarchuk and give the Komets a 3-0 lead in the Turner Cup Finals. Though the Komets outshot San Diego 47-23, the Gulls hung tough and forced overtime. The goal was Gruhl's 1,400th career IHL point in his 1,000th IHL game. This was the Gulls' last gasp.

4. MAY 12, 2008

Fort Wayne 3, Port Huron 2 3OT: Though he was only 19 years old, Justin Hodgman became a Fort Wayne immortal by scoring the game-winning and cup-clinching goal in overtime as the Komets rallied from a 3-1 series deficit. Hodgman was named the most valuable player of the Turner Cup Finals after leading the Komets in scoring with five goals and eight points during the finals and scoring seven goals and 14 points in 13 playoff games.

3. MAY 1, 1993

Komets 2, Atlanta 1: This is still the best game I've ever seen the Komets play in because the competition, the opponent and the moment were all so big. Every player was exhausted after this one, and several veterans said this was the best game they ever played in. Trailing 1-0 after two periods, the Komets got a goal from Bob Wilkie to get some life, and then Colin Chin hit Jean-Marc Richard for a power-play goal inside the final five minutes. This was the game that keyed the Komets' 1993 sweep.

2. APRIL 15, 1960

St. Paul 5, Komets 4, 4OT: They didn't win, but maybe this game defines the heart of the Komets. The game finished at 1:25 a.m. Len Ronson lost the puck on a penalty shot during the second overtime. St. Paul goaltender Glenn Ramsay made 72 saves, including 46 in overtime, and Reno Zanier had 52 for the Komets. Then Len Thornson hit one post followed by Ronson hitting the other. St. Paul's Elliot Chorley finally ended the marathon at the 118:28 mark. It was later discovered that Chorley, who scored three game-winning goals in the series should have been ineligible.

1. APRIL 21, 1991

Komets 4, Indianapolis 3: Lonnie Loach takes a pass from Robin Bawa to beat Jimmy Waite through the pads at 18:29 of overtime in Game 7 of the International Hockey League's quarterfinals. The goal ended an epic series that saw five of the seven games decided by one goal, including the last three that were played on successive nights with the road team winning each time.

Why was this game the most important playoff contest in Komets' history? Without it there never would have been the Anderson Game, or the renewed rivalry with Kalamazoo after Larry DePalma suckered Robin Bawa. Those came later that postseason. Later is also when the rest of Fort Wayne and not just the hardcore fans fell in love with the Komets and attendance picked up dramatically.

And the Komets might not have gained the playoff experience that carried them to the 1993 Turner Cup which really set up the franchise for the next 25 years. That sweep gave the Franke brothers the confidence to know they could be successful and truly made the Komets a major focus of Fort Wayne for all-time.

bsebring@news-sentinel.com


This column is the commentary of the writer and does not reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Blake Sebring at bsebring@news-sentinel.com bsebring@news-sentinel.com> .


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