FORT WAYNE, IN – The Cincinnati Cyclones, who are returning to the postseason after missing out last season, wanted to get a good grip on the series early, and they did just that. A pair of 5,000+ crowds inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne for both games one and two, and they were sent home disappointed both nights. Cincinnati clawed their way to a pair of one-goal victories in Fort Wayne’s building to take a 2-0 series lead back to the Queen City.
FRIDAY: He led the Cyclones in scoring, was tied for the league lead for most goals on the season, so it was only fitting he got the playoffs started the right way. Jack Downing, on the power play late in the opening period of game one, was able to launch one of his famous slap shots that beat Pat Nagle up high to make it 1-0 Cincinnati. The see-saw battle would ensue midway through the 2nd, Troy Bourke would get the Komets on the board with a heavy wrister from the left circle, over the shoulder of Brad Thiessen for the equalizer. Cincinnati would take advantage of a horrendous turnover by Fort Wayne’s Garrett Thompson, as Tommy Mele would pick his pocket and bury a shorthanded goal to make it 2-1 Cyclones. The Komets would tie it up again. Trevor Cheek was all alone in the slot, and was able to slip it through Thiessen’s pads to tie it at two. In the final minute of the 2nd period, the Cyclones would again, pull ahead with Mele picking his second of the game, cashing in on a 2-on-1 rush to make it 3-2 Cincinnati. The Cyclone defense would be able to stay strong, securing Cincinnati a win in game one if the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
SATURDAY: Game two started off not the way Cincinnati wanted it to start. 5:46 into the opening frame, a goal that Thiessen would probably want back. Thompson would throw it towards the net, it would actually take a bounce off of Mele’s skate and into his own net, making it 1-0 Komets. Cincinnati would battle back in the 2nd period, as Fort Wayne would make another costly mistake on the power play. Andrew Yogan would get a clean breakaway shorthanded, deke around and tuck it past Nagle to tie it at one for Cincinnati’s 2nd shorthanded goal of the series. Late in the middle frame, the Cyclones would pull ahead on a bit of a busted 2-on-1 rush. They got about three whacks at it before Zach Budish would finally squeak it through to make it 2-1 Cincinnati. Fort Wayne would not go away though as Kyle Thomas delivered the equalizer for the Komets in the final minutes of regulation. 33 seconds left in the game with the puck in the Fort Wayne end, you got to be thinking somebody from this Cyclones team would step up and be the here. Downing? Yogan? Mele? How about Christiaan Minella? An unsuspecting hero, the big 6-2 forward, not known for scoring, would be the man that would deliver the knock-out punch in the dying seconds of regulation, to put Cincinnati ahead 3-2. That would be your final, giving the Cyclones a 2-0 lead in the series.
The interesting thing here is, combined, Fort Wayne out-shot Cincinnati 68-43 on the weekend. This is a case where the quality-vs-quantity argument could be made. The Cyclones converted on the chances they were given, while the Komets on the other hand, just about, if not more than half of those 68 shots were directed right into Thiessen’s chest.
The next thing for the Cyclones, is that is an absolute must to close this series out in Cincinnati. They cannot afford to let the Komets force this thing back to Fort Wayne for games six and seven.
Both teams will get a couple days off to rest the legs, before getting back to action in Cincinnati for game three on Wednesday night at 7:35pm EST from U.S. Bank Arena.