FORT WAYNE – The Komets’ power play had been woeful, nary getting a shot on goal during its first five attempts, so it was particularly gratifying that the game-winning goal in overtime came with the man-advantage Wednesday night.
Brandon Marino, the ECHL’s leading scorer, one-timed a shot from the bottom of the left circle into the far corner of the net past former NHL goaltender Magnus Hellberg in a 3-2 come-from behind victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones in front of 5,884 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
It was the first time in 19 such games that Cincinnati had lost when leading after two periods on the road.
William Lacasse got the comeback going with a goal from just inside the blue line at 16:54 of the third period. And after the Cyclones’ Taylor Aronson got an interference penalty, Marino tallied his 27th goal and 81st point with 46 seconds left in overtime.
It felt like 0 for 75 on the power play tonight, going into overtime, Marino said. Obviously, it’s frustrating and you can see it sometimes. Guys who are on the power play pride themselves on being good playmakers and guys who can get it done. Unfortunately, our power play has struggled this year. So, it was satisfying to get the goal. But more than that, to get the two points was huge because of how tight the race is for those last couple playoff spots.
Fort Wayne (32-23-12), which is trying to avoid missing the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time since 1974 and 1975, remains four points back of Wheeling for seventh place in the Eastern Conference, in which the top eight teams will make the playoffs. They increased their lead over ninth-place Florida to two points.
We just bought in to what we had to do (in the third period). We shot the puck and got traffic, said forward Matt Carter, who scored in the first period. We made limited mistakes at their blue line and our blue line. And at the end of the day, we scored.
Komets goalie Ben Meisner, playing for the first time since March 19, when he left in the midst of a 5-4 loss to Orlando because of an accelerated heartbeat and dizziness, stopped 28 of 30 shots.
I felt good, and I felt sharp, Meisner said. I communicated that with coach (Gary Graham) and told him coming in, I’m ready to get going. Watching is painful. Just throw me into the fire and I know I’ll deliver.’ It was nice to get back in there.
Cincinnati (37-22-7) scored first, 9:51 into the first period, after the puck hopped between the legs of Simon Danis-Pepin, giving Byron Froese a breakaway on which he lifted a backhand shot into the top of the net. It was the 10th short-handed goal the K’s have allowed this season, more than every team but Toledo (15) and Bakersfield (13).
Carter, who had missed the previous 10 games with a groin injury, tied it from the right circle at 14:11 of the first period.
After Marino hit the post on a second-period breakaway – Hellberg had 33 saves – Cincinnati’s Paul Crowder scored at the end of a 2-on-1 rush for a 2-1 lead at 3:50.
Notes: The Komets haven’t given up hope that center Dean Ouellet, who hasn’t played since March 9 because of a concussion, could play in the playoffs. In the five games between Meisner’s starts, the Komets went 3-1-1 and used goalies Matt Grogan, Max Strang and Kevin Murdock. Of that group, only the rookie Grogan remains, though today the Komets are adding 23-year-old rookie Steven Summerhays, who was 21-14-2 with a 2.04 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage for Notre Dame this season.