The Journal Gazette
Thursday, June 10, 2021 1:00 am

ECHL Playoffs

K's suffer 1st playoff loss

Thunder scores 3 power-play goals, ties best-of-5 series

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Komets went to Wichita, Kansas, hoping for at least a split. They got that, despite losing 5-2 to the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday.

The best-of-5 Western Conference semifinals series is tied at 1.

Fort Wayne's Dylan Ferguson stopped 31 shots. Wichita's Evan Buitenhuis stopped 29.

The first two games of the series – including the Komets' 3-2 victory Tuesday decided by an Anthony Nellis goal with 25 seconds left – were played at the Wichita Ice Center because INTRUST Bank Arena was booked with Disney on Ice.

Game 3 will be at 8 p.m. Friday at Memorial Coliseum, where the Komets lost two of the three regular-season meetings between the teams. Games 4 and 5 will be there, too, if necessary.

Wichita's Anthony Beauregard, who was first team All-League, opened the scoring with a shot from between the circles 9:19 into the first period. The Komets' Justin Vaive tied it during a power play just 2:06 later, banging in a shot from just outside the crease, after a tic-tac-toe passing play with Stephen Harper and Nellis, who had two goals in Game 1.

With Fort Wayne's Mathieu Brodeur in the penalty box for cross-checking Beauregard, Wichita's Noel Hoefenmayer netted a power play goal on a one-timer from the top of the right circle for a 2-1 lead 8:28 into the second period.

Another Fort Wayne penalty – delay of game for shooting the puck out of play – set up the Thunder's Jeremy McKenna to stickhandle around the Matt Murphy and score a power-play goal for a 3-1 lead at 10:33.

One of the eccentricities of the Thunder's practice arena was glass that is shorter than regulation in some spots – resulting in three delay-of-game penalties for the Komets in the two games – and wider-than-usual Olympic-size ice.

One of the delays of game set the stage for the Komets' A.J. Jenks to score a short-handed goal at 13:48, after Anthony Petruzzelli dislodged the puck from Wichita at its blue line.

Fort Wayne's power-play unit, the ECHL's best during the season (at 25.9%), scored on 1 of 7 opportunities Wednesday. Wichita, which was second worst (14.3%), went 3 of 8.

The Komets' penalty kill, which was the league's best in the regular season (86.8%), has stopped 8 of 11 power plays in the series and has Jenks' short-handed tally. The Thunder's, which was No. 2 (86.4%), has stopped 8 of 9.

The Komets had a great chance to tie it 8:10 into the third period, but Mathieu Brodeur's shot at the end of a 3-on-2 rush was covered by Buitenhuis.

Fort Wayne's Brandon Hawkins was injured on a hit from behind by Cam Clarke 12:45 into the third period. The play didn't draw a penalty but did start a fight between Clarke and Petruzzelli. Hawkins needed help getting off the ice but returned to the game.

The Thunder's Matteo Gennaro scored during a 5-on-3 power play for a 4-2 lead at 14:45, and Wichita added an empty-netter.

Notes:The Komets played without Shawn Szydlowski (hand), Jackson Leef, Oliver Cooper, Robbie Beydoun (knee) and Marcus McIvor (groin). ... The Thunder was without Stefan Fournier, Peter Crinella, Sean Allen, Riley McCourt and Garrett Schmitz.

ECHL Playoffs

Western Conference Semifinals

Komets vs. Wichita


Series tied 1-1

Game 1: Komets win, 3-2

Game 2: Wichita wins, 5-2

Game 3: 8 p.m. Friday, at Memorial Coliseum

Game 4: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at Memorial Coliseum

Game 5: 7:30 p.m. Monday, at Memorial Coliseum*

*If necessary

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