CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Just like in the last series, the Fort Wayne Komets are coming home with a split after the first two games. But they aren't too happy about it.
The Cincinnati Cyclones rebounded after Friday's 2-1 loss with a 5-2 whipping of the Komets before1,731 fans in U.S. Bank Arena. The Cyclones blitzed the Fort Wayne defense and goaltender Ben Meisner with four goals in the second period to take control.
All of the Cincinnati goals came off great scoring chances, three from the low slot, and the fourth off a faceoff play. Meisner came into the game with a 1.09 goals against average and .962 save percentage, but he didn't look sharp and neither did any of his teammates in front of him.
``Just way too many lost battles,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``For us, it was a good first period and then the momentum shifted in the second period and we didn't respond well at all. When they came at us with that wave in the second period, we didn't handle it at all.''
Games 3, 4 and 5 in the best-of-seven ECHL Conference semifinal series will be played Thursday, Saturday and Sunday in Fort Wayne.
After the Cyclones had built a 2-0 lead, the Komets rallied thanks to Matt Carter. After coming out of the penalty box, Carter was a one-man attack on the Cincinnati zone, stickhandling back and forth until he could beat Cyclones' goaltender Rob Madore with a backhand to the top shelf.
The Cyclones came out with more energy and did a much better job getting through the neutral zone than they did during Friday's game when they were held to 23 shots on goal. They were also much more physical and seemed to have forgotten their tired legs from a first-round, six-game win over Orlando.
``I thought we looked really sluggish (in Game 1),'' Cyclones veteran Dan Eves said. ``I thought we had a lot better effort, more intensity and guys were battling harder.''
The Cyclones also skipped their usual morning pregame skate to get more sleep and it was apparent from the start. Cincinnati's first goal came after a Simon Danis-Pepin turnover led to a great pass from Jonathan Hazen to Josh Birkholz after Meisner had shifted to cut off the shooting lane on Hazen. The second Cincinnati goal came when Shalla skated through four Komets to lift a shot over Meisner from about 10 feet out.
After Carter scored, Shalla scored his second of the game, which was probably the only one Meisner wishes he'd get another chance at.
Though they led the first period shot totals 9-5, the Komets never got their offense going by controlling the puck, shooting much or driving the net for rebounds.
``We cut way too many corners tonight,'' Graham said. ``They beat us at our own game and they won more battles in the offensive zone. They had more offensive zone possession time. Collectively as a group, I was very disappointed in our compete level overall. It's got to get better. It's only going to get harder as the playoffs go.''
This was the Komets' first loss in Cincinnati this season after they went 4-0 in the regular season and won Game 1. The Cyclones are 7-1-2 in Fort Wayne over the last two seasons.
``We can't be a group that can rests on what we did the previous game,'' Graham said. ``We have to keep finding hunger and urgency and remember what has gotten us to where we're at right now, and that's working hard. We got away from that tonight. We didn't work nearly as hard as we should have in a game that could have put is in a really good situation going back to Fort Wayne. You have to have a short-term memory on the playoffs, but most importantly you have to know what went wrong and learn from it.''