READING, Pa. – Goaltender Ben Meisner stopped 20 of 21 shots as the Komets shocked the defending champion Reading Royals with a 2-1 victory in the opening game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday night.
Komets coach Gary Graham was almost more impressed with Meisner’s ability to stay focused than he was with any of the netminder’s stops at Santander Arena.
I believe those are the toughest games for goaltenders, Graham said. It’s hard to stay mentally into it. And then you’ve got guys with the level of experience (of Reading) and they’re shooting bullets down Broadway. I thought Ben did a really good job of staying in the moment and staying positive. He played really well.
Meisner stopped 91.3 percent of 964 shots in 36 games during the regular season.
The Komets had 26 of the first 33 shots on goal and outshot the Royals 39-21 for the game.
It was unique, but it’s not hard to stay into a playoff game or a game like this. You just want to win, Meisner said. Even though I wasn’t getting a lot of shots, they were buzzing in our end sometimes, so it’s easy to stay in the game. But it’s true, the more shots you face, you do kind of get in a rhythm too.
The Komets tied it at 1 on a short-handed goal from Mike Embach after Brandon Marino won the puck in the right corner and set him up. It wasn’t surprising given the Komets’ prowess killing power plays. The Komets’ penalty-killing unit ranked third at 86.3 percent during the regular season. Fort Wayne scored eight short-handed goals, as many as Reading allowed.
The Komets played without Sy Nutkevitch, Kenton Miller, Justin Sefton and Dean Ouellet, who has missed 16 straight games with a concussion but has been skating in practice. It was the first playoff game for the Komets since they captured the CHL championship in Game 5 against the Wichita Thunder in 2012. The Komets stole the first two games of that series on the road.