The Cincinnati Cyclones had been infallible when on the road and leading after two periods.
Until the Komets got to them Wednesday night.
William Lacasse scored a game-tying goal on a blue-line shot in the third period and Brandon Marino’s power-play goal, on a one-timer from the left wing, gave Fort Wayne a 3-2 victory in front of 5,884 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
The Komets (32-23-12), who came into the night one point ahead of Florida for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff slot, have five games remaining in the regular season.
They are trying to avoid missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1974 and 1975.
Komets goaltender Ben Meisner played for the first time since March 19, when he left in the third period of a 5-4 loss to Orlando at the Coliseum because of an accelerated heartbeat and dizziness. In the five games between Meisner’s starts – Matt Grogan, Max Strang, Kevin Murdock and Larkin Saalfrank manned the net in his absence – the Komets were 3-1-1.
Meisner came into Wednesday 11-5-2 with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 20 games for Fort Wayne.
He was sharp early Wednesday, stopping the Cyclones’ first four shots, but was hung out to dry on the first goal. Cincinnati’s Byron Froese got a breakaway and lifted a backhand shot into the top of the net 9:51 into the first period. It was the 10th short-handed goal the Komets have allowed this season, more than everyone but Toledo (15) and Bakersfield (13).
Matt Carter tied it for the Komets at 14:11 with a shot from the right circle, just after a faceoff from that spot. He had missed the previous 10 games with a groin injury.
There were a slew of scoring chances in the first four minutes of the second period. Fort Wayne’s Scott Fleming was stopped by Magnus Hellberg on a breakaway and Brandon Marino hit the post on another. At the other end, Meisner was foiled by Paul Crowder on a 2-on-1 rush at 3:50, after he was assisted by the crossbar and goalpost on earlier chances in the period.
The Cyclones (37-22-7) got a four-minute power play at 10:09, when Froese was high-sticked by Nathan Martine, but they mustered only two shots against the ECHL’s second-ranked penalty-killing unit. On the Komets’ ensuing power play, they got no shots, and they were scoreless in five power plays on the night.
Notes: The Komets are bringing in former Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays, 23, who was 21-14-2 with a 2.04 GAA and a .923 save percentage for the Irish this season. … The Komets haven’t given up hope that center Dean Ouellet, who hasn’t played since March 9 because of a concussion, could play this season, but if he does it will be in the playoffs. He has one goal and 10 points in 16 games with Fort Wayne, which signed him after his former team, San Francisco, suspended operations.
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