CINCINNATI – One of the wildest seasons in the Komets’ 62-year history came to an end Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones at U.S. Bank Arena.
the Komets were dominated from start to finish by the Cyclones in front of a crowd of 1,602, including about 300 fans from Fort Wayne.
“We’re satisfied with the way the season turned out. Are there things we need to change for next season? Absolutely,” Komets president Michael Franke said. “As far as the product is concerned on the ice, yes (we need some changes), but all in all, we’re very happy with what took place this year.
“We’d have liked to have had a better home record this year. That’s something we have to work on, and we need to come a bigger hockey team up front. We need to become more physical and that’s going to be very, very important, too.”
The Cyclones won the Eastern Conference semifinals series 3-2 and advanced to the conference finals against the Greenville Road Warriors.
As they have in every game of the series, the Cyclones scored first Tueday. Fort Wayne goaltender Ben Meisner made a kick save at the end of an odd-man rush, but forward Josh Shalla banked the rebound off Meisner’s left leg and just inside the right goalpost 4:11 into the first period. It was Shalla’s fifth goal of the series.
The Cyclones tallied 16 of the first period’s 21 shots, and forward Wade Megan gave them a 2-0 lead at 18:09. He skated across the Fort Wayne blue line, faked defenseman Matthew Maione to the ice, steered around him and shot into the far side of the net.
The Cyclones cemented the victory 1:51 into the second period at the end of an odd-man rush. It was set up when Fort Wayne defenseman William Lacasse missed a big hip check on the boards, and forward Dan Eves then redirected the puck past Meisner for a 3-0 lead.
The Komets’ offense was stifled until late in the second period, when goalie Rob Madore successfully stopped Shawn Szydlowski, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Aaron Clarke on a series of opportunities off rebounds. Szydlowski, who had six goals and 11 points in the playoffs, had his four-game goal-scoring streak was snapped Tuesday.
Maione got a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding Mike Dalhuisen in the third period, and Fort Wayne successfully killed off the power play, before center Dean Ouellet scored for the Komets on the redirection of a Simon Danis-Pepin shot at 13:23.
Brian Nugent added an empty netter for the Cyclones at 18:45.
The first half of the season was tumultuous for the Komets, who made a franchise-record 12 trades, including dealing away captain Nick Tuzzolino and eventual ECHL MVP Mickey Lang. They also used a record nine goalies before Meisner took control down the stretch.
The Komets’ annual end-of-season party and jersey auction will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Appleseed Room at Memorial Coliseum.
For more on this game, read Wednesday’s Journal Gazette or return to “Ice Chips” later tonight or www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.