The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 01, 2022 1:00 am

ECHL Playoffs Wheeling 3 Komets 2

It's do or die as K's head home

Trail 3-2 after Nailers' late power-play goal in Game 5

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

WHEELING, W.Va. – Komets forward Shawn Szydlowski was trying to make something happen offensively in the third period of a tie game when the Wheeling Nailers' Justin Almeida hooked him to the ice.

No penalty was called.

But 20 seconds later, Fort Wayne's Anthony Petruzzelli was sent to the penalty box for a cross-check in front of his own net. On the ensuing power play, Wheeling's Sam Houde scored from the left circle with 2:02 remaining to propel the Nailers to a 3-2 victory in front of 1,831 fans at WesBanco Arena on Saturday night.

The Komets are down 3-2 in the best-of-7 Central Division semifinals, meaning they'll have to win Monday and Tuesday nights at Memorial Coliseum to keep their hopes of repeating as Kelly Cup champions alive.

Wheeling scored on 1 of 8 power plays.

“We had a little trouble with the power play in the game,” Houde said. “It was a huge power play for us to try and take advantage of it.”

Fort Wayne had only three power-play opportunities and was scoreless. Not surprisingly, Fort Wayne coach Ben Boudreau said afterward: “It's frustrating because we feel like we've got to beat two teams out there right now.”

The Komets left Wheeling feeling as if their mission had been accomplished – they won Games 3 and 4 here after uncharacteristically dropping two games at the Coliseum – but they didn't feel as if they played particularly well Saturday.

“It's a tough one to take,” Petruzzelli said. “Unfortunately, we didn't play the full 60 minutes tonight.”

The Komets needed a gaffe by Wheeling goalie Louis-Philip Guindon to get one goal – he coughed up the puck behind his own net to set up Matthew Boudens for a short-handed goal that tied it at 2 at 6:38 of the third period – and then got the game's final six penalties from referees Brett Roeland and Trevor Wohlford. That included a misconduct on Szydlowski for physical abuse of officials as time expired, which could warrant a league suspension.

“To be honest, we didn't put ourselves in position to win with the way we played the first 40 minutes,” Boudreau said. “We weren't connected (compared to) the way we played Wednesday and Friday. Just in general, we didn't make plays and only had 13 shots through 40 minutes and that wasn't good enough.

“It's a Game 5 scenario, we came out better in the third (period), and the refs took all the momentum away by calling every little infraction out there. It's frustrating for our team, and we thought it was very one-sided officiating.”

Guindon stopped 21 of 23 shots. Fort Wayne's Samuel Harvey turned away 25 of 28.

“The whole idea was to get the series back to Fort Wayne for Game 6, at least,” Petruzzelli said. “We accomplished that and now we're going to move forward.”

The Nailers came out of the first period with a 1-0 lead, thanks mostly to two big plays: A Guindon save on Mark Rassell, who sped around the Nailers' Matt Foley, patiently cut to the net and was bested by the sliding goaltender; and Matthew Quercia's goal with 2.9 seconds remaining, off the redirection of a Félix Paré shot.

The Komets tied it at 1 when defenseman Adam Brubacher led a 3-on-3 rush, shot from the right circle, got to his own rebound and put it past Guindon 2:27 into the second period.

Wheeling's Josh Maniscalco scored an unassisted breakaway goal at 6:24 for a 2-1 Nailers lead.

Note: Komets defenseman Marcus McIvor's eye is OK after he was struck by a high stick Friday, general manager David Franke said. He is considered day-to-day.

Central semifinals

Komets vs. Wheeling Nailers


(Wheeling leads 3-2)

Game 1: Wheeling 1, Komets 0

Game 2: Wheeling 4, Komets 2

Game 3: Komets 4, Wheeling 1

Game 4: Komets 4, Wheeling 3 (OT)

Game 5: Wheeling 3, Komets 2

Game 6: Monday, 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum

Game 7: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. at Coliseum*

*if necessary

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