A power surge took down Salt Palace ticket computers and made many folks miss Sunday's first period; a power surge by Fort Wayne kept the Golden Eagles at bay for two periods.
But, like the fans, the Eagles eventually got through the gate, and their three third-period goals bought Salt Lake an eighth straight victory, this one 3-1 for a three-game sweep of the Komets in the Palace.That enabled the Eagles to set a franchise record for most home wins in a season, 30, and it gave them 47 wins for the season, two short of tying that club record.
It was the careful goaltending of Steve Guenette, who shut out the Komets through the final 50 minutes, and a team commitment to dig deep, dump it deep and crash the net in the final period that bought the victory.
Assistant coach Bob Francis had determined that the Komets were standing up strongly at the blue line and boxing out the Eagles from the slot area. Francis reminded the Eagles during the second intermission to dump the puck deep to avoid blue-line confrontations and to mix up that boxing-out tactic. He also told them to go to the net more.
Baxter agreed. "We had to crash the net a lot better - that was the difference between the first two periods and the third."
"When Rick Hayward two minutes into the period starts going to the net and gets a goal in front of the crease - and we knew that was our objective - well, that just picked the whole team up," Guenette said. "We knew from that point that we had them where we wanted them."
That created a 1-1 tie at 1:12 of the third period.
"Hayward got the first one," said Guenette, "and lots of traffic in front of the net caused the second one - exactly what we'd talked about."
The second goal, and eventual game-winner, was scored by defenseman Dave Reierson.
It was only his sixth goal of the season, but it was his third game-winner.
It came on a power play at 6:59 after the Eagles already had a couple of chances.
Rich Chernomaz got the puck in the right-wing circle and swept it back to Reierson at the point.
"There were a lot of players in front, so I just shot the puck hoping to get a deflection or good rebound out of it," Reierson said.
He got the deflection - off Komet Carey Lucyk.
"He had good position," shrugged Fort Wayne Coach Robbie Laird, saying his Komets gave "their best effort of the trip, no question.
"We played the game we had to; it just didn't go our way."
Laird also couldn't find fault with Al Sims for dragging down Eagle Paul Ranheim :38 prior to the Reierson goal to give the Eagles the fatal power play. Ranheim, the IHL's leading goalscorer with 56, was close to scoring as he barged in on Sims and goalie Stephane Beauregard.
With the Eagles up 2-1, the game went down to the final :06 before it was decided. At 17:50 of the third, Eagle Marc Bureau was drew a major penalty for charging Komet Colin Chin.
The Komets pulled Beauregard for an extra attacker at 18:15. With :32 left, Salt Lake finally got the puck out of its defensive zone and spent the next :26 trying to get an empty-net goal. Their first two shots were wide, but then Chernomaz hit an empty-netter at 19:54 for the 3-1 lead.