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K's must defend well

Also, they must steal 1 of first 2 games

READING, Pa. -- The Reading Royals are the defending champions of the ECHL and they won the Eastern Conference this regular season.

The Komets, the eighth seed in the conference, won only one of four games against the Royals. (One loss came in a shootout, which, thankfully, is not part of playoff hockey.)

But the Komets believe they have some reason for confidence today, as the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals open tonight at Santander Arena. (In fact, I spoke with some players on other teams, and they agreed with me that Reading is actually a favorable matchup for Fort Wayne. Opposed to, say, Kalamazoo.)

"One thing that could benefit us is that they are kind of a run-and-gun team and if we limit their chances and get ours, we might give ourselves a chance," Fort Wayne's Brandon Marino said. "If we go back and forth with them and go chance for chance, it could be a long series. Playing sound defensively against them is going to be our best bet."

Lately, the Komets' defense has been decent. They have outscored the opposition 16-13 in the last five games. In its last five games, Reading has outscored its opponents 12-11.

The Komets know the key to winning a series that starts on the road is stealing one of the first two games.

In their last playoff run, which came in 2012 when they won the CHL title, they started the playoffs on the road in a best-of-five series against Rapid City. They won Game 2, 3-1.

Even though the series went back to South Dakota for the decisive Game 5, which they won 4-3 in overtime, it wouldn't have happened without the early road win, which also gave them confidence they could win in that hostile atmosphere.

In the finals that year, a best-of-seven series in a 2-3-2 format, the Komets won the first two games at Wichita and took the series in five games.

Of course, there is also the flip side. In 2012, against Missouri in a best-of-seven conference finals, the Komets dropped both Games 1 and 2 at Memorial Coliseum, and were down 3-1 in the 2-3-2 series, yet still won in seven games.

So even though 2-3-2 can advantage the road team if it steals one of the first two, you have to remember that Games 6 and 7 are, obviously, pivotal and that the good teams have the better seed for a reason.

  • Some of you have asked about coverage from the Reading perspective. The newspaper there has a paywall, but if you're interested: Click here. On twitter, the reporter is @jasonguarente. Speaking of twitter, you should be following me by now: @sportsicohn.
  • I also found this: Click here.
  • I stumbled upon this story while out here: Click here. Seeing Lehigh Valley brought back some UHL memories. This team will be in the American Hockey League.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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