The Journal Gazette
 
 
Wednesday, May 04, 2022 1:00 am

ECHL Playoffs Wheeling 3 Komets 2

Sudden end for Komets

Stunned in Game 7 OT loss to Nailers on home ice

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Komets' 70th season came to an end in overtime of Game 7 of the Central Division semifinals Tuesday. There was a mad scramble for a loose puck and the Wheeling Nailers' Matthew Quercia snapped a 15-foot shot in to cap a 3-2 victory in front of 5,773 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

“It's playoff hockey,” Fort Wayne's Oliver Cooper said. “You're going to Game 7, going to overtime, I think we battled right to the end and when it comes to that point, we're just one bounce away from going the other way. So it's tough. I don't think there's any shame in losing that way. I think we left it all out on the ice. But it's tough right now.”

The Komets, who won the ECHL's Kelly Cup championship last season, dropped three of four games at the Coliseum in the series, after going 5-0-0 there against the Nailers during the regular season.

Fort Wayne's Samuel Harvey stopped 31 of 34 shots and the fans chanted his name even after the game was over, acknowledging his efforts in the series.

“We have a great group, a great group of guys. It breaks my heart to look at them in the eyes and see the pain that they felt because they gave everything of themselves and I feel for them,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said. “It was a great game. We had chances to end it, there's no question, there in overtime. It didn't happen and, ... it's tough to swallow.”

Wheeling's Louis-Philip Guindon stopped 38 of 40 shots, though he was fortunate early in overtime when he coughed up the puck in his own zone and needed teammate Patrick Watling to block a Shawn Szydlowski shot at an open net.

It was the fifth game in seven nights for the Komets and Nailers, the third that went to overtime.

The Komets won 4-3 in overtime at the Coliseum on Monday – Matthew Boudens had the winning goal – and the Komets are 9-5 all time in Game 7s, including an 8-3 mark at the Coliseum.

The Nailers will next face the Toledo Walleye.

It took 6:21 for the Komets to get their first shot on goal, but it went into the net. Connor Jones chipped a pass to Mark Rassell in the left circle, he stick-handled around Wheeling's Sam Houde, and wristed a shot past Guindon's outstretched glove from 33 feet out.

Rassell has five goals and eight points in his first eight professional games out of the University of New Brunswick, including four goals and six points in six playoff games, and he had the overtime winner in the Komets' 4-3 victory in Game 4 at Wheeling, West Virginia.

Guindon recovered from Rassell's Tuesday goal to thwart an Anthony Petruzzelli chance from 10 feet out, keeping the score 1-0 heading into the first intermission.

“Guindon was a killer for them,” Boudreau said. “He was a difference maker every single night. He was extremely tough to solve. You can't have success without great goaltending and it was tough for us, offensively, to solve him after being such a high offensive team throughout the season. They really found a way to keep us out of the scoreboard. Hat's off to Guindon, I thought he was spectacular.”

The adjustments made by the Nailers during the intermission paid off and they dominated the early minutes of the second period, getting a Justin Almeida goal from the left circle 3:11. It came after Fort Wayne turned the puck over in its own zone, a mistake amplified by Blake Siebenaler losing his footing to give Wheeling a 2-on-1 rush.

Fort Wayne regained the lead at 12:19 when Matt Alvaro skated out from the behind the net and slipped the puck inside the near post, after Petruzzelli's hustle on the forecheck set him up.

Wheeling's Sean Josling answered just 1:17 later by getting the rebound of a Tyler Drevitch wraparound attempt and sending it into an open net.

jcohn@jg.net

Central semifinals

Komets vs. Wheeling

Best-of-7

(Wheeling wins 4-3)

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: Komets 4, Wheeling 3 (OT)

Game 7: Wheeling 3, Komets 2 (OT)


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