Was it a go-ahead goal, or wasn’t it? And if it was, who scored it?
Those were the questions of the night after Colin Chaulk’s apparent game-
winner with 2:06 left snapped a 1-all tie and sent the Fort Wayne Komets home with a split in the opening two games of the Turner Conference semifinals with the Rapid City Rush.
Brett Smith added an empty-net goal to give the Komets the 3-1 win over the Rush before 4,024 fans Saturday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.
Officials ruled the game-winner came amid a mash of bodies in front of Rush goaltender Tim Boron.
Boron and other Rush players claimed Chaulk had illegally slapped the puck into the net with his hand. Chaulk said after the game that linemate Chris Auger scored the goal.
“Just battling in front of the net,” Chaulk said. “It just went straight up in the air and I had position on their D-man. It went up and in. I didn’t touch it.”
Rapid City’s Les Reaney said Fort Wayne players admitted that Chaulk had slapped the puck into the net.
“Chaulk and (Kaleigh) Schrock said Chaulk had put it in with his hands,” Reaney said. “There’s not much you can do about it. They (officials) didn’t see it. It’s too bad one of the three guys didn’t see it on the ice.”
A smashed pane of glass near the Fort Wayne blue line with just 25 seconds left turned out to be an afterthought after the Rush — 6-3 winners in Game 1 Friday night— and Komets had played with championship finals intensity for the final period.
“You knew it was going to be a dirty, greasy play at the net that was going to win it,” Komets head coach Al Sims said. “Rapid City got a few bounces last night at the net. We got a bounce tonight at the net.”
Schrock put the Komets on the board first, deflecting Stephon Thorne’s shot from blue line past Boron with just 3:08 gone in the first period.
The Rush tied it up on their sixth shot of the game just 49 seconds into the second period.
A stretch pass from Dominic D’Amour found Schultz behind the Fort Wayne defense and Schultz went top shelf on Komets netminder Nick Boucher.
“I just tried to get through the middle and get a shot on net. It was fortunate he (Boucher) was on his way down and I got it up. It was a big goal for us,” Schultz said.
Boucher denied Schultz’s penalty-shot attempt after Bryant Molle tripped up Schultz in front of the net during a Rapid City power play.
“We played a good game. It’s a good series, two good teams. Hopefully we’ll get a break throughout the series that will go our way,” Schultz said.
Boucher (1-1) stopped 30-of-31 shots for Fort Wayne. Boron (1-1) made 24 saves in the loss for Rapid City.
“It’s playoff hockey. Two teams playingGame 2 of a series like it’s a Game 7,” Rush head coach Joe Ferras said. “Everybody knew it was going to be a long series. Now we’ve got to go back to their barn and play like we’ve been playing.”
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.