FORT WAYNE – The Komets are supposed to be fighting for a playoff, but there wasn’t much aggressiveness from them in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones at Memorial Coliseum.
They were sluggish in the first two periods, relying too heavily on Ben Meisner’s 26 saves, and were handed their first regulation loss in eight games against the Cyclones (39-22-7), who clinched a playoff berth.
We didn’t come out with the game we wanted to play at all. Not enough intensity and really sloppy, forward Shawn Szydlowski said. That’s not the way we want to play right now with the playoffs right around the corner. We all know that. I don’t think anyone in here is happy with how we played tonight. We’ve got to find a way to put it past us and just be ready.
The Komets (33-24-12) had been on a 3-0-1 run.
The two points were so big tonight, and we really let this one slip away from us. That’s not how we want to be playing at home. We haven’t played the best at home this year (going 13-11-9), and we want to get that going before the playoffs, and we needed a way better effort tonight, said Szydlowski, whose Komets had their lead over Florida for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Eastern Conference trimmed to two points.
Fort Wayne has four regular-season games remaining, starting today at the Coliseum against Toledo (21-42-5).
Before playing the Cyclones, the Komets waived defenseman Nathan Martine, who had seven assists in 55 games, and forward Mitch Bruijsten, who had one goal and two points in nine games.
The Komets will sign defenseman Steven Shamanski today, a source confirmed. Shamanski had six goals and 16 points in 38 games as a senior with Providence. Former Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays is expected to make his professional debut today.
The Komets had only one shot on goal in the first 9:10 Saturday before a blistering Scott Fleming shot from the right circle was stopped by former NHL goalie Magnus Hellberg, who finished with 32 saves.
Cincinnati’s Dan Eves opened the scoring with 5.1 seconds left in the first, finishing a cross-ice pass from Josh Shalla.
Cincinnati’s Paul Crowder scored on a rebound to make it 2-0 at 17:12 of the second period, and the Cyclones’ Zack Budish scored from 10 feet out with 54 seconds left in the period.
Defenseman Jordon Southorn scored for the Komets with a 50-foot shot during a power play 3:02 into the third period, but Budish scored 27 seconds later for a 4-1 lead.
Fort Wayne’s Chris Auger scored at 4:46 after a scrum in front of the net. Cincinnati’s Josh Birkholz added an empty-netter at 17:17.
Against a good team like Cincinnati, if you can’t establish a chip-and-chase game, you’re (in trouble). That’s a very good skating, high-transition team. There’s a reason they lead the league in goals, and we played right into their hands there, Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said. You could tell they were the fresher team. Things were flying around us. Finally, in the third period, we decided to start battling and to start skating.