INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman doesn’t know how his team has successfully contained the Komets’ top two lines in the Turner Conference finals.
Or, he does, and he’s not saying.
“That’s a great question,” he said. “I’ll have to check the video.”
The Mavericks have had no answer for the Komets’ third line of Jean-Michel Rizk, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Stephon Thorne, which accounted for four of Fort Wayne’s 10 goals in the three games at Independence, Mo.
The Komets won 3-1 in Game 3 and needed double overtime to win 5-4 in Game 4 but were dominated in a 5-2 loss in Game 5 on Saturday night. The Mavericks lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can end it tonight at Memorial Coliseum.
The Komets are not concerned that the third line, nicknamed the “Redrum Line,” carried the scoring in the last three games.
“That’s playoffs,” Rizk said. “Sometimes you get the bounces and sometimes you don’t. In different games, different guys step up. The other lines have been great the entire playoffs, so it’s only a matter of time until it clicks.”
The Redrum Line has four of Fort Wayne’s 15 goals and eight of its 39 points in the conference finals.
That may not sound like much but consider the drop-off from the last series, a six-game victory over Rapid City, for the top line of Colin Chaulk, Mike Vaskivuo and Chris Auger. It had eight goals and 19 points against the Rush and has three goals and nine points against Missouri.
The line of Brett Smith, Leo Thomas and Bobby Chaumont had four goals and seven points against Rapid City. It has three goals and seven points against the Mavericks.
“Chaulker’s line has got to get going,” Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. “In this series, they haven’t been as effective as they were against Rapid City. They’ve got to get it going. … We need all three lines scoring.”
The Redrum Line – named so because it wears red in practice and likes to “murder” the opposition – prides itself on wearing down opponents through hard hitting. It has also been resilient, with Rizk tying games after early Missouri goals in three straight games.
“Everyone has to contribute, and they’re a hard-working line and they’re a talented line,” Smith said. “Rizker has come up big. But guys like myself and some other guys, it’s not like we’re not getting chances. It’s been frustrating (to not score), but at least we’re getting the chances and we just need to bury them.”
The Komets lost the first two games of the series at the Coliseum, but they are hoping a return home will re-energize the top lines.
“The Chaulk line has the veteran craftiness, those plays from behind the back of the net,” Hillman said. “They’re an awful good hockey club, and they present some unique challenges. I think not having played them is why we didn’t look very good in the first two games. We got the victories but certainly didn’t look like a very good hockey club.”