Halfway through the third period, the Cyclones weren't skating, hitting or showing any pep at all. It was everything they could muster to get the puck out of their own zone so they could skate slowly back to the bench for some rest. Cyclones goaltender Rob Madore was fantastic, making 34 saves, or the Komets might have won easily.
Maybe both teams had tired legs early because the first two periods looked more like a regular-season game than a playoff contest in terms of intensity. The Komets' forecheck seemed to wear down the Cyclones, who were getting frustrated while trying to push the puck through the neutral zone. They might be even more weary tonight playing back-to-back games.
``Everyone is tired,'' Cincinnati coach Ben Simon said. ```You're in the playoffs. There's no excuse for being tired. I don't think our best players were our best players.''During the last seven years that the Komets have qualified for the playoffs, they have won at least one round every year and 12 series. They have qualified for the playoffs 11 times in the last 12 years, and have won at least one round 10 times, winning 17 series and five championships.
Cincinnati is also used to playing deep into the ECHL playoffs as the Cyclones are in the second round for the sixth time in eight years. They won the Kelly Cup in 2008 and 2010 and reached the conference finals in 2009 and 2013.The Cyclones' attendance woes continue in what is a very difficult situation. The Cincinnati Reds are home this weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers, right next door in the Great American Ballpark.
The Cyclones drew a crowd of 1,307 on Friday night, which provided very little atmosphere, and that included an estimated 500 Komets fans. Cincinnati averaged 1,920 fans during three first-round home games. It's possible tonight there might be more Komets fans in attendance than Cyclones' fans.Because he played for Northern Division teams Kalamazoo, Toledo and Fort Wayne, Komets forward Aaron Clarke actually played 15 games against Cincinnati this season, scoring three goals and eight points. The Komets only played nine.The Komets are 7-1 at Cincinnati over the last two seasons, and Ben Meisner is now 14-2 on the road this season as the Komets' goaltender... The Cyclones were a remarkable 32-0-2 when leading after two periods during the regular season... The last time the Cyclones and Komets met in the playoffs was in 1994 when the lower-seeded Komets pulled the upset in six games during a second-round series... Tonight's game will be the Komets' 500th playoff game in the franchise's 62-year history. Bob Chase has broadcast all but six of those games... Tickets for a possible Game 5 in Fort Wayne will go on sale at Noon on Monday.... The Komets have won Game 1 in their last three playoff series, all on the road.