FORT WAYNE, IN – The Cincinnati Cyclones scored a 3-2 win over the Fort Wayne Komets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Friday night. Forward Tommy Mele netted a pair of goals, while forward Jack Downing chipped in one for the Cyclones.
There was no feeling-out process in this one, as the two sides came out hitting early on. Both teams exchanged quality scoring chances throughout the first, but the Cyclones drew first blood with less than a minute left while on the power play, when defenseman Garrett Noonan sent a feed to Downing and he blasted home the one-timer, giving Cincinnati a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.
After Ft. Wayne tied the game midway through the second on a goal from Troy Bourke, the Cyclones’ special teams struck again when Mele stole the puck off of Komet forward Garrett Thompson’s stick and walked in a fired a wrister past Ft. Wayne netminder Pat Nagle, putting Cincinnati back up, 2-1.
The Komets came right back a few minutes later while on the power play, as forward Trevor Cheek lit the lamp with less than five minutes remaining in the frame to even the game back up, 2-2.
The Cyclones were not deterred, and with 15 seconds left, forward Colin Mulvey came over the offensive blue line on a 2-on-1 rush and sent a cross ice feed to Mele who tapped the puck past Nagle for his second of the period, giving Cincinnati a 3-2 lead through two.
The Komets kicked up the offense in the latter half of the third, getting a number of quality scoring chances, and forcing Cyclones netminder Brad Thiessen to make a number of big saves. Cincinnati was able to overcome the late Ft. Wayne attack, as Thiessen stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced to help lift the Cyclones to a 3-2 win.
The Cyclones and Komets meet again tonight in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30pm ET.