FORT WAYNE, Indiana – The Cincinnati Cyclones (31-30-2-9) had their playoff hopes cut just short as they fell to the Fort Wayne Komets (48-18-2-4) in a shootout by a 3-2 final score in front of 8,790 at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. Cincinnati finished tied for fifth in the North Division, only one point behind the Wheeling Nailers.
The Komets didn’t take long to find the net in the opening stanza as Matt Lowry fired a shot over Rob Madore (SOL, 31 saves, 16-19-2-8) from inside the left circle at 3:40 to grab the 1-0 lead. Then, during a Cincinnati power play late in the period, Eric Faille caught a long pass at center ice, raced in on a partial breakaway, and tucked home the insurance marker at 18:07 to extend his team’s lead to a pair at the first intermission.
Despite a pair of power plays in the middle frame and some high quality chances, the Cyclones still failed to solve Fort Wayne goaltender Roman Will (W, 34 saves, 17-8-1-3) by the end of 40 minutes. The Komets also collected some good looks at the net but couldn’t add to their edge as they carried the two-goal cushion into the third period.
Cincinnati started their comeback trail early and swiftly in the third; just 3:13 in, MacKenzie Weegar beautifully played the puck to the middle for Branden Gracel who deposited his 15th goal of the year to cut the deficit to 2-1. Then, just 2:03 later, David MacDonald ripped a point blast past Will to knot things at two. Unfortunately, around the very same time, the Wheeling Nailers sealed a 5-3 win over the Elmira Jackals to officially clinch the final North Division playoff spot – ending the Cyclones hope for a last-minute berth. But that didn’t make the finish to the regular season finale any less interesting. Neither side could break the 2-2 deadlock and the game was forced into overtime for the second meeting in a row.
Both clubs had ample opportunity to pot the game winner, but the goalies remained perfect and a shootout proved necessary again. The Komets struck in each of the first three rounds, getting lamplighters from Paul Crowder, Shawn Szydlowski, and Brett Perlini while the Cyclones came up with a pair from Jack Downing and Josh Shalla. Unfortunately, though, Will wouldn’t surrender another goal and Fort Wayne sealed a 3-2 victory.
The Komets will face the Kalamazoo K-Wings in the first round of the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs starting next week. The Komets earned home-ice advantage for the first round by finishing the season in second place in the North Division while the K-Wings locked up third place, setting the stage for the eighth post-season meeting between the Komets and the Wings over the history of the two clubs.
It will be the first time Fort Wayne and Kalamazoo have met in an ECHL playoff round, and the first time the two clubs have met in the playoffs since 2009 when the Komets eliminated the Wings 4 games to 2 in International Hockey League play.
The North Division semi-finals will open in Fort Wayne Friday, April 17 at 7:30pm. Game two is slated for Saturday, April 18 at 7:30pm in Fort Wayne before the series switches to Kalamazoo for games 3, 4, and if necessary, 5. If needed, games 6 and 7 will be held in Fort Wayne.
Tickets for the first two Komet home playoff games are on sale at the Coliseum Ticket Office and online at www.ticketmaster.com.2015 ECHL KELLY CUP NORTH DIVISION SEMIFINALSFORT WAYNE KOMETS VS KALAMAZOO K-WINGSBest-of-seven series
Game 1- Friday, April 17…………….Kalamazoo at Fort Wayne, 8pm
Game 2- Saturday, April 18………..Kalamazoo at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm
Game 3- Wednesday, April 22……Fort Wayne at Kalamazoo, 7pm
Game 4- Friday, April 24…………….Fort Wayne at Kalamazoo, 7:30pm
*Game 5- Saturday, April 25………..Fort Wayne at Kalamazoo, 7:30pm
*Game 6- Monday, April 27………….Kalamazoo at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm
*Game 7- Wednesday, April 29…….Kalamazoo at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm
*If necessary.Regular Season Awards:
The Komets announced their End-of-Season Player Awards Saturday night following the regular season home finale against the Cincinnati Cyclones at the Memorial Coliseum. The awards were presented as follows:
- Bud Gallmeier Memorial Trophy/Community Service Award, for community service and dedication to the game of hockey in memory of long-time Komet beat writer Bud Gallmeier.
Winner: Mike Embach (second consecutive year)
- The Wiegmann Family “True Komet” Award, exemplifying team spirit and a positive attitude on and off the ice.
Winner: Mike Embach
- The Komet Kuarters Most Improved Player Award.
Winner: Brett Perlini
- The Mr. Hustle Award, in honor of the memory of Cliff and Jean Fell, Jim and William Fell, and Pat Curtis, long-time Komet fans. The award considers a player’s personal statistics (goals, assists and on-ice hits at home) and overall up-tempo style of game.
Winner: Mike Embach
- The Unsung Hero Award, the Komets’ 5/30 award in tribute to Komet Hall-of-Famers Robbie Irons and the late Terry Pembroke, given to the player whose hard work, dedication to his teammates and love of the game is in the true spirit of Komet legends Robbie Irons and Terry Pembroke.
Winner: Pat Nagle
- The NOB Brick Award, for the Stonewall Defensive Forward of the season.
Winner: Mike Embach
- The Komet Defenseman of the Year Award.
Winner: Drew Daniels
- The Komet Rookie of the Year Award.
Winner: Eric Faille
- The Komet Most Valuable Player Award, known as the Foss Folk Memorial Trophy sponsored by the Folk family and voted on by the Komet players themselves.
Winner: Shawn Szydlowski