The new-look Komets have showed they can play.
Now they need to win.
They coughed up a three-goal lead Saturday night and lost 5-4 to the Cincinnati Cyclones in an overtime shootout, dropping to 0-0-2 under new coach Gary Graham.
That’s unacceptable. They gave us a dose of our medicine in the third period, said Graham, whose Komets built a 3-0 lead by 10:27 of the second period on goals from Tristan King, Brandon Marino and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock.
That’s when things went sour, as 8,484 fans were there to celebrate the jersey retirements of goaltenders Chuck Adamson (No. 1) and Nick Boucher (No. 33). Adamson and Boucher led the Komets to six of their nine playoff titles.
Obviously, (the Cyclones) started playing and they brought it, Marino said. And we sat back on our heels a little bit. We didn’t make confident plays with the puck and that bit us. We gave up two points, and we’ve got to learn from it. We’ve got to learn how to put teams away.
Thirty seconds after Schrock scored on a 40-foot shot, Cincinnati forward Anthony Luciani broke past defenseman Nick Tuzzolino and scored on a high shot. Then forward John McFarland scored, just off a faceoff, at 6:15 of the third period, and defenseman Brett Wysopal tied it off a rebound at 15:08.
Marino answered with a spinning shot from the slot at 16:48, but the Cyclones forced overtime by taking advantage of a turnover and getting a Barry Almeida goal at 17:23.
That was the most disappointing thing – being at our own blue line with the forwards thinking about offense before the puck was cleared, Graham said. We’re a young team and new team and we’re trying to learn our way.
The Komets didn’t get a goal in the shootout, dropping them to 1 for 10 in shootouts. Cincinnati (3-0-0) got goals from Almeida and Paul Crowder.
We just can’t hang our heads, said Graham, whose team plays today at Evansville. We’ve got points in both games, and we’ve been playing in tight games. Our group is going to be able to score goals. It’s about how you play with a 3-1 lead and that’s what it comes down to.
Cody Reichard stopped 33 of 37 shots for the Komets. Cincinnati’s Rob Madore stopped 34 of 38.
Good teams need to learn how to play with the lead. That’s something we need to learn how to do, Marino said. More so, we need to play our game for 60 minutes. It’s a cliché but it’s true. If you don’t show up for 60 minutes, anything can happen.
Fort Wayne was 0 for 5 on the power play. Cincinnati was 0 for 9.
Our guys battled, but we’ve got to do a better job of staying out of the box, Graham said. You cannot create positive momentum on home ice by having the march to the penalty box.
Notes: The Komets activated forward Mike Vaskivuo and defenseman Jace Coyle before the game. Vaskivuo had been out with a groin injury. Matt Firman and Nik Pokulok were scratched. The Komets now have 15 retired numbers, including numbers for former coach Ken Ullyot, former owner Colin Lister and radio broadcaster Bob Chase.