CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Sometimes it's best to be a little selfish.
After Mike Embach's shot on the Cincinnati goal got shoved back out with under 10 seconds to go Friday night, Komets teammates Christian Ouellet and Scott Fleming realized they both had a chance at the rebound.
``I stole the puck from Flems in front of the net because it was on his backhand,'' Ouellet said. ``I tried to go five-hole and it hit their skate and went in. It was a lucky goal, but we worked hard on that shift to get that puck.''
To hear Fleming tell it, he realized Ouellet was on the forehand so he let him take the shot. Either way, it was one of only two things that slipped by Cincinnati goaltender Rob Madore on Friday night as the Komets beat the Cyclones 2-1 in Game 1 of the ECHL's Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 2 is tonight in U.S. Bank Arena, and the Komets have control of the momentum.
The puck slid through Madore's pads with 7.1 seconds left in a game that was eerily reminiscent of Game 1 in the first-round series against Reading when the Komets scored with 8.1 seconds left to win. The Komets out-shot the Cyclones 36-23 in a sloppy game in front of 1,307 fans.
Just like in the first round, the goaltenders were the stars. The Komets limited the Cyclones chances against Ben Meisner, but the chances they got were very good. Cincinnati didn't get its first shot on goal until the first 7:10 had been played and then Wade Megan got a breakaway that Meisner stoned.
After Embach gave up a turnover in his own corner, Megan popped free all alone in front to beat Meisner early in the second period. Then the Komets and Embach came back with a late power-play goal when Embach ripped a slap shot just over Madore's shoulder and under the crossbar. Embach has had plenty of bad luck with crossbars over the last 10 games, but this time he managed to hit the inside of one to his benefit.
The Komets out-shot the Cyclones 26-11 through two periods, but some turnovers kept Meisner busy when he did have chances against. He made eight saves on a late third-period Cincinnati power play after Brandon Marino was called for high sticking.
Maybe that power play wore out the Cyclones who could not stop the Komets in the final minute.
``Really what it was, we stopped turning the puck over so much,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``That team is so potent offensively, and they can hurt you in so many ways in transition, we were playing right into their hands. Mismanaging the puck, we'd cross the offensive blue line turn it over and back the other way, we couldn't control the neutral zone... That's the fastest team we've seen in a long time. The chances that they had were some pretty Grade A scoring chances. Benny has been our rock for sure, but we can't put him in so many of the positions we put him in tonight.''
Madore was just as good, keeping his team alive through the first two periods.
``I thought both goalies played very well,'' Cyclones coach Ben Simon said. ``I thought there were a lot of chances both ways, and the one at the end we'd like back obviously. We gave up way too many scoring opportunities and when you get out-shot that significantly, you can't expect to win hockey games.''
ECHL Conference Semifinals
KOMETS 2, CYCLONES 1
(Fort Wayne leads series 1-0)
Penalties: FW-Christian Ouellet (cross checking) 9:37; C-Byron Froese (tripping) 10:51; C-Brett Wysopal (interference) 13:46.
Scoring: 1. C-Wade Megan (Barry Almeida) 8:13; 2. FW-Mike Embach (Dean Ouellet, Brandon Marino) 17:00.
Penalties: C-Mike Dalhuisen (tripping) 3:39; C-Jonathan Hazen (cross checking) 16:08.
Scoring: 3. FW-Christian Ouellet (Scott Fleming, Embach) 19:53.
Penalties: FW-Marino (high sticking) 14:14.
Shots on goal: FW/9-17-10--36; C/4-7-12--23. Goaltenders: FW/Ben Meisner, C/Rob Madore. Power-play opportunities: FW/1 of 4; C/0 of 2. Officials: Referee-Stephen Reneau; Linesmen: Francois Dussureault, Patrick Richardson. Attendance: 1,307.