K's lose heart-breaker in OT

Check out the highlights from the Komets' 4-3 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones on May 11, 2014, at Memorial Coliseum. The Cyclones lead the series 3-2. By Justin A. Cohn, The Journal Gazette

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Mission simple: Win or else

Regulation hockey, you say?

Pffft. So last week.

It’s so Betamax, so MySpace, so please-be-kind-rewind. It’s the Commodores and Commodore 64. It’s the pay phone with the rotary dial you use to call your buddy when the Komets and Cincinnati are again finally done playing hockey.

“You’re not gonna believe this,” you say. “They went overtime again.”

And, yeah, they did.

Three games, three different nights in Memorial Coliseum, and still the same script: We’re goin’ extras. And so, again, in Game 5 Sunday night, it came down to one final shot, one last bit of informed flight by a piece of vulcanized rubber.

This time it was a one-timer off the stick of Cincinnati forward Jonathan Hazen 106 seconds into overtime, and now it’s simplicity itself for the Komets. This isn’t quantum physics now, as the red light glares and the air goes out of the place. It’s not number theory or game theory or the theory of relativity, or any real theory but one.

That would be this: The theory of Just Win A Bleeping Game.

It’s the only option left to the Komets as they head for Cincinnati on the skinny end of a 4-3 loss, with the Eastern Conference semifinal series now 3-2 against them.

“All we have to do is win one game,” is how Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock put it, after his go-ahead goal with 3:56 to play in regulation was immediately negated by a Cyclones equalizer 22 seconds later. “One game. We’ve been a great road team all year. I still like our chances.”

“We’re confident,” Komets coach Gary Graham agreed. “This is a tight series, I felt the whole time it was gonna be tight, it’s gonna go the distance.

“There’s no doubt this stings. But again, you’ve got to be a pro, and that’s what it’s all about is handling adversity. When you get knocked down, it’s how quick you get up (that matters).”

And maybe that’s easier now that the Komets put together their most complete game of the series, even if it ended in a 4-3 loss. They outshot Cincinnati 12-10 in the first period and 17-9 in the second, which they exited with a 2-1 lead. They went to the net and forechecked and won the hard battles down in the corners. They controlled play better in the neutral zone and forechecked and made a great goalie, Rob Madore, play great.

And did we mention they forechecked?

“That was a great game for us,” left wing Chris Auger said. “I thought we played well from start to finish. We have nothing to hang our heads about tonight.”

And nothing but one simple imperative from here on out.

You either Win A Bleeping Game or you commence scheduling tee times, and if there is a brutal clarity to that, it’s a clarity the Komets have lived with for quite awhile. And so there’s a certain … well, not comfort, exactly, but familiarity with the idea that either they steal two games in Cincinnati this week, or they can commence making tee times.

“We feel like if we build off how we’ve been playing … we feel pretty good about our chances going up there,” Auger said. “I don’t think there’s a person in this room who doubts we can do it.”

Overtime or Betamax.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at bensmith@jg.net; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.

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