Just like they did the entire game Friday night, the Fort Wayne Komets are trying to chase down the Cincinnati Cyclones.
After rallying from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to tie, the Komets fell to the ECHL North Division leaders 4-2, including an empty-net goal. Thomas Beauregard almost tied the game in the last minute when he got a clear look from in front at half the Cincinnati goal, but he didn't realize he had more time, hurried and shot the puck into goaltender Michael Houser.
The anguish on Beauregard's face after the shot and after the game echoed that of the 7,329 Memorial Coliseum fans. The Komets' best shooter had the puck and the game on his stick at the right time.
"I blame myself," Beauregard said. "That's why we lost. I should have scored. It was a great play by (Brandon) Marino, and I didn't capitalize and it's all my fault."
Not totally. The Komets only made about three big defensive mistakes, but the Cyclones scored on all of them despite getting only 26 shots on goal. Komets goaltender Marco Cousineau played well, but the Cyclones' scoring chances were helped by Fort Wayne's team defensive breakdowns.
Cincinnati's John McFarland victimized defenseman Nick Schaus on the first goal when Schaus tried to play the puck instead of the man. Defenseman Scott Kishel gave the puck away for the Cyclone's third goal, which Anthony Luciano ripped home. The game-winning goal from Mike Embach came when no Komets forward picked up the trailer defensively, which is becoming an ongoing problem.
J.M. Rizk and Corey Elkins scored the two Fort Wayne goals, both on strong individual efforts. There were other chances that slid just wide and one late shot that belted the post before rocketing back out.
The Komets' chances to rally were hampered when Matt Firman and Luca Caputi were injured in the second period, leaving Komets coach Al Sims to try mixing forward combinations while trying to find more offense.
"Unfortunately, we can't shoot the puck into the net for the guys, but we had two wide-open nets that we didn't capitalize on," Sims said, disappointment showing on his face. "They capitalized on one in the third, and that's all they needed to win the game. I knew whoever got the third goal was probably going to win it."
If the Komets had won, they'd have pulled within two points of Cincinnati and Toledo for the division lead heading into a rematch tonight at Cincinnati. It also would have been their fourth win in the last five games. Instead, they'll have to regroup.
"We had chances and played well," Komets forward Kaleigh Schrock said. "Sometimes it's hard to realize that when you don't get the win, but it was a good effort by our guys. That's two pretty good efforts in a row at home, and we have to keep that going and keep playing well defensively."
The worst part for the Komets is they continue to struggle at home, falling to 8-10 despite being 9-5-2 on the road. They've won two games in a row at home only once.
"We battled hard and had our chances, but they capitalized in the third and we didn't," forward Eric Giosa said. "It happens. If we work like that and play like that, it will turn around."