June 9th, 2014. 676 days ago. That is how long it has been since the Cincinnati Cyclones were last part of a playoff series. The almost two-year drought will come to an end on Friday night when they head two and a half hours north to face their division-rivals, the Fort Wayne Komets in game one of the 2016 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Final Regular Season Records:

Fort Wayne Komets (40-23-7-2, 87 points, Midwest Division Champion, 2nd in Conference)
Cincinnati Cyclones (36-27-5-4, 81 points, 2nd in Division, 7th in Conference)

Series Schedule:
Game 1 – Friday April 15th, @ Fort Wayne – Memorial Coliseum – 8:00pm EST
Game 2 – Saturday April 16th, @ Fort Wayne – Memorial Coliseum – 7:30pm EST
Game 3 – Wednesday April 20th, @ Cincinnati – U.S. Bank Arena – 7:35pm EST
Game 4 – Friday, April 22nd, @ Cincinnati – U.S. Bank Arena – 7:35pm EST
Game 5 – Saturday April 23rd, @ Cincinnati – U.S. Bank Arena – 7:35pm EST (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Monday April 25th, @ Fort Wayne – Memorial Coliseum – 7:30pm EST (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday April 27th, @ Fort Wayne – Memorial Coliseum – 7:30pm EST (If Necessary)

Regular Season Head-To-Head:
Overall Record: Fort Wayne (5-5-0) | Cincinnati (5-4-1)
Home Record: Fort Wayne (1-2-0) | Cincinnati (3-3-1)
Away Record: Fort Wayne (4-3-0) | Cincinnati (2-1-0)
Points Leader: Fort Wayne (Mike Embach/Shawn Szydlowski – 10) | Cincinnati (Jack Downing – 12)
Goaltending Leader: Fort Wayne (Pat Nagle, 4-4-0, 3.29 GAA, 0.882 SV%) | Cincinnati (Brad Thiessen, 2-0-1, 1.63 GAA, 0.969 SV%)
Power Play: Fort Wayne (16.7%, 6-for-36) | Cincinnati (27.3%, 9-for-33)
Penalty Kill: Fort Wayne (72.7%, 24-for 33) | Cincinnati (83.3%, 30-for-33)

Kelly Cup Playoff History:
Appearances: Fort Wayne (3) | Cincinnati (10)
Brabham Cups (Regular Season Champions): Fort Wayne (none) | Cincinnati (1 – 2008)
Division Championships: Fort Wayne (1 -2016) | Cincinnati (3 – 2008, 2009, 2013)
Conference Championships: Fort Wayne (none) | Cincinnati (3 – 2008, 2010, 2014)
Kelly Cup Championships: Fort Wayne (none) | Cincinnati (2 – 2008, 2010)
Previous Playoff Meetings Between The Two: 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals  – Cincinnati won series 4-2 over Fort Wayne

Playoff Rosters:
FORT WAYNE:
(G) Spencer Martin, (G) Pat Nagle, (D) Gabriel Beaupre, (D) Cody Corbett, (D) Justin Hamonic, (D) Will Weber, (D) Jordan Southorn, (D) Cody Sol, (D) Troy Bourke, (F) Trevor Cheek, (F) Taylor Crunk, (F) Brett Perlini, (F) David Friedmann, (F) Mike Embach, (F) Shawn Szydlowski, (F) Paul Crowder, (F) Jamie Schaafsma, (F) Kyle Thomas, (F) Garrett Thompson

Reserve List: (F) Garrett Meurs, (D) Randy Cure

Playoff Eligible List: (F) Alex Belzile, (D) Mason Geertsen

CINCINNATI:
(G) Brandon Whitney, (G) Andy Iles, (D) Jonathan Diaby, (D) Garrett Noonan, (D) Riley Weselowski, (D) Brett Wysopal, (D) Cody Carlson, (D) Andrew Blazek, (F) Peter Quenneville, (F) Seth Ambroz, (F) Christiaan Minella, (F) Andrew Yogan, (F) Brett Ferguson, (F) Tommy Mele, (F) Jack Downing, (F) Joe Wilson, (F) Zach Budish, (F) Branden Gracel, (F) Nick Huard, (F) Colin Mulvey

Reserve List: (F) Levko Koper, (D) Steve Weinstein

Playoff Eligible List: (G) Brad Thiessen, (F) Joe Pendenza

Usually, goaltending is what will win you a playoff series. In this case, defense is going to be the deciding factor in which one of these teams will move on to the second round to face either Colorado or Utah. In the ten games Cincinnati and Fort Wayne played each other during the 2015-2016 regular season, the Komets outscored the Cyclones 34-33. 67 goals scored…in ten games. In nine of those ten, at least five goals were scored. These two teams can come together and put up a high scoring clinic on each other. That’s why defense is going to be the story of this series.

Both teams have some severe fire power up front that can do a tremendous amount of damage. Fort Wayne’s got guys like Szydlowski and Embach on the offensive side. Cincinnati has guys like Downing, Yogan, and Budish. To make it out of these next two and a half weeks, you have to play solid defense and keep those key opposition players quiet. Failure to do so will result in an early exit from the postseason.

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