FORT WAYNE – In the Komets’ locker room late Friday night, several players could be seen consoling teammates, who had missed chances to tie what was a high-energy game with the North Division-leading Cincinnati Cyclones.
We battled right to the end. Unfortunately, we can’t shoot the puck in the net for the guys, coach Al Sims said after a 4-2 loss at Memorial Coliseum. We had two wide-open nets that (Eric Giosa and Thomas Beauregard) didn’t capitalize on. It’s unfortunate, but we played well tonight. We played hard. The effort was there.
It was the first of five games in 10 days between the Cyclones (20-10-2) and the Komets (17-15-2), who also play Evansville and Orlando once in that span.
The Komets and Cyclones meet again tonight at U.S. Bank Arena, where Fort Wayne hasn’t been since 1999 in the original IHL.
The chances were there, said center Jean-Michel Rizk, who scored one of the Fort Wayne goals. That’s a good team over there. Their goalie (Michael Houser) played well (with 30 saves). An effort like that, it’s disappointing with the loss, but we worked hard and played hard and we just have to come back (tonight).
The Komets may be without forwards Luca Caputi and Matt Firman, both of whom suffered undisclosed injuries.
The Cyclones have 15 players contracted to higher-level teams, eight more than the Komets.
They are really good, Rizk said. They are really good on transition. That’s a team that you have to make sure you take care of the puck against. That’s something we talked about before the game; they’re a quick transition team and they score on their chances. They don’t need 10 chances to score. But it’s good for us to play them. They are upper-level players, and it will make us better to play them.
A crowd of 7,329 was there for Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock bobblehead night, with some waiting in line as long as 12 hours for the memorabilia, and in something of a rarity they saw the Komets dominate the early shot totals. Fort Wayne got the first seven and didn’t allow a shot on goal until the 7:38 mark.
But the Cyclones scored first. Forward John McFarland skated from his own blue line, through a pair of Fort Wayne defenders and slipped a shot between the legs of goaltender Marco Cousineau, who made 22 saves.
After Rizk answered on a rebound, Cincinnati forward Anthony Luciani scored from 20 feet out. Former NHL forward Corey Elkins, who scored the game-winning goal in his Fort Wayne debut Wednesday, netted a short-handed goal at the end of a 2-on-2 rush to tie it at 2.
In the third period, Cincinnati’s Mike Embach accepted a pass from behind the net before scoring the game-winner at 9:35. David Pacan added a late empty-netter.
Note: One of the Komets’ biggest all-time rivals, former Port Huron and Dayton goalie Larry Sterling, announced his retirement on Facebook. Thanks to the Fort Wayne fans, he wrote. You made my last five years so much fun every time I came to the Coliseum.