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Category Archives: United Hockey League

#8…Quad City Mallards at Fort Wayne Komets
United Hockey League Colonial Cup Finals…Game 5…May 4, 2003

If you’re reading this and you are a Komets fan, you are probably thinking how crazy it is that this is only #8. Also if you are a Komets fan you probably know that this was one of the most thrilling wins in history. Just stay tuned for the rest of the list and I’ll try to explain reasoning where possible. Also remember that it’s MY list and I’m simply hoping I add some entertainment and readability for you.

It was less than 24 hours after a game 4 at the Mark of the Quad Cities. We had made the 6 hour drive to see us get one step closer to capturing the first Colonial Cup since joining the UHL. It was an easy 6-0 (possibly 7-0, I don’t remember exactly) victory for the Fort Wayne Komets. They led the series 3-1. We made the mistake of not getting a hotel room and drove back the same night/morning. We arrived back in Fort Wayne, but not before the sun did.

After a long nap, we were set to go to the Memorial Coliseum to potentially see a championship for the Komets for the first time in 10 years. The atmosphere was electric and the largest crowd to ever see a Komets game showed up in a frenzy. Little did we know how intense this game would get later on.

The game was tied 1-1 at the end of what was quite honestly a boring 60 minutes. There were so few scoring chances and neither team was willing to make any mistakes. After a 15 minute intermission, sudden death overtime began.

Everyone that was in the arena was on the edge of their seat, but unfortunately not everyone had returned from intermission. There were actually people who went to either go smoke, go wait in line for concessions, or go do whatever that took longer than 15 minutes. Now let me ask you a question…if you knew you were going to overtime with a chance to win the championship, would you not make every single effort to make sure you were in your seat at the drop of the puck?

As the overtime began, Quad City took over right away. there were a couple scrums for the puck in the Komets end when forward Bobby Stewart managed to pick up a loose puck and send a backhander in the air out to center ice. It hit the stick of Ryan Severson almost perfectly. Severson had Dustin Virag on his right and only a single defenseman in front of them. The crowd began to stand in unison as the 2 on 1 developed.

At this point Severson crossed the blue line and just stopped. I’d never seen anything quite like that as generally you try and attack the net. This time however, the defenseman stopped as well while Virag kept going. Severson put a saucer pass right on Virag’s stick who came in all alone on the Quad City goaltender. The goalie went for a diving poke check while Virag never deked. He shot the puck right under the cross bar and it came rebounding out off the bar inside the net. Virag immediately threw his gloves off and skated around the ice. The initial reaction of the crowd was that they weren’t sure if the puck was in, mainly because you could hear what sounded like cross bar. However, it was most definitely a goal.

The crowd went nuts and it is close to as loud as I’ve ever heard Memorial Coliseum. Virag skated around as his team followed him in celebration. Ribbon and confetti and all kinds of celebratory junk was thrown around the spectators as they had just witnessed an amazing goal and championship.

This was a team built for a championship. It became the best defensive team in UHL history, not necessarily because of their goaltender Tom Lawson (who to this day I think is the most overrated goalie the Komets have ever had), but because of coach Greg Puhalski’s incredible defensive system. 2002-2003 was a special season that had a huge spark midway through it. I’ll discuss that moment later on in my countdown.

While the Komets were in the International Hockey League for nearly 47 years, the drop to the AA UHL never got me back to the point of excitement that the IHL did. They recently changed the name of the UHL to the “IHL” but no matter how much they try and sugarcoat it, it’s NOT the same International League. Fort Wayne is close to if not the mecha of minor league hockey and it really deserves AAA hockey again. While visiting Fort Wayne last December I went to an “IHL” game and it was so boring to me. I’m thinking the best times, like the one above, are behind them for a variety of reasons…but this is all for another day.

The Komets winning the 2003 Colonial Cup in overtime of game 5 is number 8 on my top 15 sports moments.


#11…Quad City Mallards @ Fort Wayne Komets
United Hockey League Colonial Cup Finals, Game 2…May 2003

This game is probably the most exciting game start to finish I’ve ever witnessed. In fact, if I were to say how many Komets games were truly a great game to watch, many of them were indeed Komet losses. This game was no exception to that rule.

After a huge win the previous night in game one of the Colonial Cup Finals, the Quad City Mallards returned to Memorial Coliseum ice to try and tie up the series. They were out for blood and they got it both figuratively and literally.

The action was intense, the atmosphere as great as I’ve ever seen it at the Coliseum and the traveling fans who came from the Quad Cities made their presence felt too.

I tried to do some research and find box scores of some of these games, but I could find very little so please know this is from memory alone.

I remember how intense every hit was. It’s like anytime there was a check from either side, every ounce of energy was put into the hit. What really got the crowd and both teams into a frenzy was a flying elbow by one of the Mallards on Komet defenseman Troy Neumeier. Neumeier lay near motionless on the ground as he was clearly in the face as a melee ensued.

Komets star forward Bobby Stewart already had a pair of goals in this game, but they trailed by 1 with less than 10 minutes to go. Stewart was hit hard by a high stick and was bleeding pretty bad on his face. A 4 minute penalty was doled out and the Komets had a power play. The crowd rose to their feet when Stewart came out on the power play, refusing to get his face looked at. It didn’t take long for Stewart to score and the MC crowd exploded as hats reigned down from all over.

I was sitting behind the penalty box and could see Stewart pointing to his face while skating past the box. He said something to the nature of “thank you” while looking at the player who was serving the high sticking infraction. After numerous chances, the game eventually went to overtime.

The hitting and scoring chances didn’t stop there either. This was easily the most thrilling overtime period I’d ever been a part of. There were penalties called and all sorts of power play chances. After 80 minutes of play, the score remained tied.

As the 2nd OT began, I began to wonder if a stupid penalty would decide the game. I honestly can’t remember for sure if the winner was on a power play, but I do know it was Tom Menicci putting one home from about 50 feet past Komet goalie Tom Lawson. Like most goals Lawson gave up, this one was high above his shoulders just under the bar. I was honestly never big on Lawson as he struggled mightily with high shots and he had at the time the best defense the UHL had ever seen in front of him. We’ve had better goalies.

Anyway, it was a tough way to lose but it really made me happy to have witnessed such a great hockey game that had everything in it. In fact, it really set up what we make another top moment later on.

Game 2 of the UHL Finals vs. Quad City, a double OT loss is #11 on my Top 15 Sports Moments.

#13…Quad City Mallards @ Fort Wayne Komets
2000 United Hockey League Semi-Finals…Game 1.

I must admit, I missed nearly the entire game. From what I heard, it was quite a matchup of scoring chances and end to end rushes. In fact, I’m not even sure what the final score was, but I think it was 4-3.

The 1999-2000 season was something new to Fort Wayne Komets fans. It became a time where for the first time in franchise history, we dropped to AA hockey, forever leaving the IHL they had been a part of for close to 50 years. The United Hockey League was without question a lower level, but at the time was quite an exciting league to watch (that certainly changed later on unfortunately).

The Komets finished 4th in their 5 team division but still managed to make the playoffs. After rolling past their first two opponents, they met up with a minor league hockey mecha, the Quad City Mallards. Quad City had a huge fan base, they had some of the best players in the league, and were a part of something that would get them into the NHL hall of fame, winning 50 games in 5 consecutive seasons, the first pro hockey team to accomplish that feat.

Led by 50 goal scorers Kevin Kerr and Glenn Stewart, with 26-4 Martin Villeneuve backstopping the team in net, the Mallards were going to be a true test. What really helped bring out the big rivalry with Fort Wayne, was Komets longtime enemy in the IHL, Kerry Toporowski.

As I finally arrived at the end of regulation time, I get to my seat to meet with my friends. I hadn’t witnessed an overtime game in a few years and this one was to upset the almighty Mallards.

While the crowd wasn’t more than about 50% capacity, it was an exciting time as you could feel everyone creeping closer to the edge of their seat in anticipation to explode.

Then about 10 minutes into the period, Keli Corpse (If I remember correctly) fed a pass up to Bruce Ramsay, yes Bruce Ramsay, the UHL’s all time penalty minute leader who probably had no business being on the ice in overtime. Ramsay came in on Villeneuve all alone and put on an absolutely sick side to side deke and placed the puck into the net on the ice the whole way.

It was an amazing moment at the time mainly because of how exciting this playoff run was, but because I was around a lot of relatively new hockey fans that I helped turn on to the great sport. I know it was a thrill for them to see what they had just witnessed as well.

We also knew that we had just gone up 1 game to 0 on the Quad City Mallards.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last as the Mallards went on to win the series and play for the Cup.

Bruce Ramsay’s Overtime goal for the Komets to beat the Mallards in the 2000 UHL playoffs is #13 on my top sports moments.

I’m going to be posting over the next couple of weeks, my top 15 sports moments that I’ve been involved in, or have been to in person.

There are no rules here, it’s just some of the best sports moments I’ve been blessed to be a part of. I’m sure I missed some, and certainly nothing is official. If you want to comment on any of these, or something I may have missed, please do so in a positive and preferably respectful manner.

Some of these will be extremely obscure and others will be things most of you know.

#15…Rockford Icehogs @ Kalamazoo Wings
May 6, 2006, UHL Semi Finals, Game 2.

My team at the time was the Fort Wayne Komets who had already been eliminated by the Rockford Icehogs in round 1 of the United Hockey League playoffs. It was a Saturday night and we decided to take the very short drive up to Kalamazoo, Michigan to check out the Wings take on Rockford.

The previous night, Kalamazoo easily handled Rockford 3-1, but game 2 was a much different story. In fact, it was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen at any level. Numerous fights, high scoring, an awesome storyline, and a full house.

Let’s start with Rockford who was led in this game by former NHL prospect Billy Tibbetts. Tibbetts could have been a star, but he had a huge temper that always got the best of him. He was also convicted of raping a 15 year old girl when he was 17. Things spiraled out of control for Tibbetts and he found himself in the UHL. On the ice, he had no problem getting in the faces of others and doing whatever it took to find the net.

The Wings were led by Lucas Drake who picked a great night to do what he did. Now neither player was the star of their team, but on this night, they would go down in history.

There was a lot of special teams involved in this game as it was especially chippy early on. The Wings’ Kory Karlander started the scoring with a short handed goal in the first, while Rockford responded with 2 powerplay goals. They battled strong for 20 minutes and were tied at 3.

The second period was extremely tough on the Icehogs as Lucas Drake took over for the WIngs. He notched a couple goals, including the first of two short handed goals to give himself a hat trick. After a Nick Bootland shorthanded goal, Drake put up two more goals to give him a total of 5 goals, a UHL playoff record. Needless to say, Wings Stadium was in a frenzy.

8-3 Wings after 2.

Rockford got an early 5 on 3 powerplay in the 3rd period and capitalized when Tibbetts put in his 3rd of the game for a hat trick of his own. Two minutes and two goals later, another Tibbetts sighting gave him his 4th goal. He got pretty cocky as there was a small brawl. Tibbetts could be seen yelling at Wings fans at counting to 4, the number of goals he had scored. The fans let him know how to count to 5, the number of goals Drake had scored, and how to read a scoreboard, something the Wings were also winning.

The Icehogs were stellar the rest of the game, putting on an absolute flurry of shots, but Wings goalie Joel Martin stopped what he needed to and Kalamazoo survived 8-7 to take a 2-0 series lead.

The Wings would go on to win the UHL’s Colonial Cup that year but not before playing an absolutely epic playoff game against the Rockford Icehogs, which is #15 on my top 15 Sports Moments.