In the last article, I stated how the Komets needed to tighten up tremendously in order to even have a chance in this series. I think they heard me loud and clear. Fort Wayne took control of this series from the moment the puck dropped for Game 3 and they did not look back. In Games 3 and 4 combined, Fort Wayne out-shot Toledo 80-53. I also said that if Fort Wayne fell down 3-0, that was the series, and that I could see Fort Wayne coming back from down 2-0. Well… I rest my case.
After playing the first two games in Downtown Toledo, the series shifted to the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne for Game 3. This was a game the Komets absolutely dominated. And if not for Jeff Lerg, this game could’ve gone a lot worse for the Walleye. Fort Wayne held a commanding shots lead at 42-23. This was a night Martin Frk’s cannon blast would come in handy. He scored both of Toledo’s tallies the exact same way, with the howitzer from the top of the circle that Komets goaltender, Pat Nagle never saw. But, that wouldn’t be enough to hold off the Komets’ offensive barrage. It would be a night for former Cyclones as Paul Crowder was able to bang in the game tying strike with less than a minute left in regulation. Mike Embach finished the job in OT and the Komets took Game 3 by a 3-2 Final in Overtime to cut the series lead for Toledo to 2-1.
Game 4 was a little more subdued as it would once again be a goaltending battle. In terms of offense, it was a little more evened out as shots this time were 38-30 in favor of the Komets. For the fourth straight game in this series, Toledo struck first with Troy Schwab picking up Tyler Barnes’ rebound. The Komets would answer back soon after with a powerplay goal from Mike Embach. Overtime would soon become a theme as for the second straight night, the extra session would be needed. The way things had been going for both sides, you knew it was going to be a busted play that would be the game winner, and indeed, it was. Shortly after the overtime frame began, a loose puck bounced to James Martin who through it right by a heavily screened Jeff Lerg to send the Komets OT winners once again, by the final of 3-2 to tie the series up at two.
What’s slowly killing the Walleye is their powerplay. In this series alone, the ECHL’s best regular season power play unit has gone 0-15. This series could really be more one sided than even like it is now. The Walleye were given chance-after-chance in Games 3 and 4 to put the Komets away on the powerplay, but they came up just short. In fact, in the final 10 minutes of regulation in Game 4, the Walleye had three straight powerplays and failed to capitalize on all three. Another falling point for Toledo has been consistency. In each game of this series, Toledo has struck first. And also in each game of this series, Fort Wayne tied the game almost immediately.
Home ice is going to be the killer in this series. So far, what this series has shown us is that the home team is going to have the upper-hand, and this could be where Fort Wayne faces a major challenge. In order to win this series, they have to at least win one on Toledo ice. But, a bright side for the Komets is in playoffs, momentum means everything. Right now, momentum is on Fort Wayne’s side.
Like I predicted right in the North Division Semi-Finals, I’m going to stick with the same strategy, when the series is tied at two in a best-of-seven, whoever wins Game 5 is going to take the series.
Game 5 gets underway from Toledo on Saturday at 7:35pm EST. Game 6 gets underway from Fort Wayne at 6:00pm EST on Sunday.