CINCINNATI, OH – They say there’s a silver lining in everything you will ever encounter in life. They also say home ice advantage is huge in the playoffs. In this case, those are both lies the size of Asia. I cannot find one positive to take out of this game. I have been in Cincinnati since the tail-end of the 2012-2013 season and to be honest, this was the worst game I have seen them play since I’ve been here.
There was absolutely zero effort. The Cyclones were outworked, outplayed, and everything in between. Anything Cincinnati could do, Fort Wayne could do it 50 times better. You can argue the Cyclones weren’t prepared. Maybe, they expected Fort Wayne to just roll over and die. The fact is, it’s the playoffs and you just cannot make these mistakes that could possibly wind up in you having an 9am tee-time on the green the next morning.
It was a good hockey game for about one minute and 12 seconds, then it all came crashing down. Just 72 seconds into the game, Fort Wayne’s Alex Belzile would let loose a laser from about 35-feet out that somehow alluded Cincinnati netminder Brad Thiessen, to make it 1-0 Komets. A horrendous turnover in the defensive zone just a few minutes later would increase the Komets lead. Brett Perlini picked it up and went back door to Troy Bourke for the tap in to make it 2-0 Komets. The deficit for Cincinnati would grow to three late in the opening frame. On the power play, absolutely zero defensive effort to clear out the Komet d-men from the Cyclones as Kyle Thomas in the slot, got about three whacks until it finally went in to make it 3-0 K’s.
Some bad luck to start the 2nd for Cincinnati. On a 5-on-3 power play they could’ve made some good use out of… just as the Komets returned one man to the ice, which was Mike Embach, he and Colin Mulvey collided, causing the puck to hop right to Belzile for a shorthanded breakaway. He cashed in for his 2nd of the game to put the Cyclones in a 4-0 hole. This would spell the end of Thiessen’s night manning the pipes for Cincinnati, as Brandon Whitney would come in to relieve the veteran goalie. Here comes more defensive woes for the Cyclones…with 75 points in 62 regular season games, Shawn Szydlowski is without a doubt, in the Top 5 of most dangerous forwards in the ECHL. Cincinnati’s defense left him all alone in front of Whitney not once, but twice, and he cashed in both times to put the Komets ahead by a touchdown, 6-0. The Komets would make the extra point good as well with a late tally from Garrett Thompson to put Fort Wayne up 7-0 heading into the 3rd period.
Paul Crowder would add one more in the 3rd for good measure, and to rub more salt in the wound. 8-0 Komets would be the final score.
This best-of-seven Western Conference Quarterfinal series is now three games old, and remember when I said home ice advantage is a lie? So far, in all three games, the home team has lost every single one of them. In fact, overall, so far in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, road teams are 17-9.
Cincinnati still leads the series 2-1, with game four set to be played in Cincinnati on Friday night. However, all the momentum has shifted to Fort Wayne. I’m going to say it now, Friday is going to be the most crucial game of the series. If Fort Wayne gets back in it and ties the series on Friday, Cincinnati is in trouble.
The main key for Friday if you’re Cincinnati? They gave about 2% effort in an 8-0 loss. If they want to win game four and go up 3-1 in the series, it’s going to take about a 500% effort. A complete 180 from game three will be needed.