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COLUMN

Komets rally again, but need to flip the script on Cyclones

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For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

Up next
ECHL Conference semifinals
Game 5
Cincinnati at Komets
Faceoff: 6 p.m.
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM

Cincinnati led 2-0 for second straight game

Sunday, May 11, 2014 - 7:08 pm

It might be interesting to see what the Fort Wayne Komets could do playing with a lead against the Cincinnati Cyclones.

The Komets have led for all of 7.1 seconds in the ECHL's Eastern Conference semifinals, but the series is tied 2-2. Fort Wayne defenseman Jordon Southorn's shot from the blueline hit the stick of Cincinnati defenseman Taylor Aronson and went in between goaltender Rob Madore's left skate and the goalpost at 5:22 of overtime Saturday night.

Standing beside the goalpost, Komets forward Matt Carter might have had the best view to see.

``Nothing,'' he said. ``I just saw (Aaron) Clarkie going crazy. Their goalie said a word I can't say on the air right now, so I knew something good had happened.''

There were a lot of words like that Saturday night, mostly coming from the Komets and their fans who had to be frustrated by the Cyclones' outstanding discipline and defense. They don't make mistakes that can hurt them, and to beat them an opponent doesn't have to make just good plays but sometimes great ones.

For the fourth game in a row the Cyclones scored first and the Komets seemed to need the entire game to catch up. For the second game in a row, they had to rally from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime, this time with Shawn Szydlowski scoring the game-tying marker with 5:41 remaining in the third period.

``It just shows the resiliency of our group,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``To come back against a team like that and win in overtime, I'm just extremely proud of this group of guys. I'm looking forward to see what kind of group shows up tomorrow night.''

Game 5 starts at 6 p.m. and maybe the Komets will have the momentum, but the Cyclones are an outstanding team and are much better defensively than might usually be expected from the league's top-scoring squad. Goaltender Madore is exceptional, especially with his glovehand which is nearly impossible to beat.

The Cyclones pack in their defense and only give up the shots they want you to take, and they don't allow any opposing forwards to get near Madore or a rebound. They always get back defensively with at least three skaters, usually move up ice as a five-man unit and they are good enough tactically to slow down ECHL scoring leader Brandon Marino without doing anything special to target him.

They are also controlling a Fort Wayne offense which has been as good as anybody over the last six weeks. They are slowing down what the Komets felt in the last round might be the league's deepest group of forwards.

Every time the Cyclones have led 2-1, it feels like at least 3-1 because their defense is so hard to penetrate. It's a struggle to get across the neutral zone and into the offensive zone, let along get quality shots off.

``They just have the depth,'' Graham said. ``All six defensemen are solid and they are a very structured, well-coached team. If you are going to beat them, it's probably going to be a 3-2 game. If we're going to have success it has to be a 2-1, 3-2 type of games.

``We're very evenly matched, both of us are playing our game and it's probably going to go the distance.''

Game 6 will be Tuesday in Cincinnati and a possible Game 7 would be there Wednesday. To get there, Komets need to take a lead sometime and see how the Cyclones react to the early pressure for once.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Blake Sebring at bsebring@news-sentinel.com .