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Komets fall apart in third, lose in overtime

<p>Photo courtesy of Dianne Webster/Allen Americans</p> <p>The Allen Americans start to celebrate J.P. LaFontaine's game-winning goal in overtime against Komets goaltender Pat Nagle on Saturday night. </p>

Photo courtesy of Dianne Webster/Allen Americans

The Allen Americans start to celebrate J.P. LaFontaine's game-winning goal in overtime against Komets goaltender Pat Nagle on Saturday night. 

<p>Photo courtesy of Diane Webster/Allen Americans</p>
<p>Komets leading scorer Shawn Szydlowski scored his first goal of the series in the second period against Allen goaltender Riley Gill. </p>

Photo courtesy of Diane Webster/Allen Americans

Komets leading scorer Shawn Szydlowski scored his first goal of the series in the second period against Allen goaltender Riley Gill. 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Allen leads series 3-1

Saturday, May 21, 2016 08:49 pm
In one of the most stunning playoff turnarounds in Fort Wayne's hockey history, the Komets blew a 5-2 third period lead and lost to the Allen Americans in overtime Saturday night 6-5. J.P. LaFontaine scored after a blocked shot bounced to the right of goaltender Pat Nagle at the Allen forward's skates 3:46 into the extra session. The Allen win gives the Americans a 3-1 series lead in the ECHL's Western Conference Finals heading into today's 5 p.m. faceoff for Game 5 in Allen. If the Komets can somehow recover and win, a Game 6 would be played at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum.

The Americans, who are trying to win their fourth consecutive playoff championship, are now 10-3 in overtime games during that run and have won an amazing eight in a row.

The Komets' problem was the same as its been throughout the playoffs, undisciplined penalties. They gave up four consecutive Americans power plays to start the third period and Allen scored two goals to get back into contention. David Makowski's slap shot with 9:27 remaining forced the overtime.

"It started with a bad penalty by Mike Embach, a very selfish penalty and that's where all the momentum shifted," Komets coach Gary Graham said by phone. "Instead of coming out to start the period 5-on-5 with all the momentum, you have to start on a penalty kill and that's when it all started. Then we had a couple of slashing calls, all bad penalties and we shoot a puck out when all we had to do was chip it out of the zone. It's the same old, same old, the Fort Wayne Komets vs. the Fort Wayne Komets."

Remarkably, Allen's rally came after the Komets scored four goals in the second period to take control. For the first time in the series, all the Komets' big guns showed up on the scoresheet. Garrett Thompson scored twice and Shawn Szydlowski once after being held scoreless all series. Alex Belzile had three assists, Mike Embach scored his third goal in two games and Cody Sol started the scoring with a late-first period snipe.

The Komets chased starting Allen goaltender Riley Gill from the game early in the second period after he gave up five goals on 19 shots. He got no help from his defensemen who continually got caught cheating into the offensive zone and gave up odd-man rushes, or they allowed the Fort Wayne forwards to eat them wide and get to the front of the Allen net.

Fort Wayne had a chance to really put the game away late in the second period when the Komets had a 5-on-3 power play but were unable to score on Jack Hildebrand who made a couple of strong saves.

The loss is reminiscent to the Komets' 7-6 triple overtime loss to Atlanta on May 19, 1994 when the Komets blew a 5-0 lead at home. That is easily the worst loss they've suffered in the postseason with a big lead. They were able to rally the next night and win that game, but this time that challenge will be on the road.

"It's up to them," Graham said. "At this point in the season there's nothing I can say to get them ready for a game. It's must-win from here on out. We're in this position because we put ourselves into this position. We have to take accountability and understand we are here because we put ourselves here. The only way out is coming together and going one game at a time. It's as night and day as that."

The Komets are now 5-2 on the road during the playoffs, losing both times in overtime. This would have been the first time Allen had lost back-to-back home playoff games since the Americans started their championship run four years ago.

Makowski finished with two goals and two assists for the Americans, and ECHL scoring champion and Most Valuable Player Chad Costello had four assists. Komets goaltender Nagle made 24 saves on 30 shots.

"For Nags, we didn't sacrifice enough," Graham said. "We had a lot of forwards who weren't willing to block shots in the third period, and that cost us."

The Komets played the final 35 minutes with five defenseman after Gabriel Beaupre had to leave after being driven into the boards by Allen's Vincent Arsenau. Graham said Beaupre is questionable tomorrow with a lower-body injury, but the extent is not known yet.

During their playoff history, the Komets have rallied four times from 3-1 deficits to win a series. They did it in 1963 against Muskegon and in 2008 and 2010 against Port Huron. They also did it in 2005 against Rockford, a team coached by now-Allen coach Steve Martinson.

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