FORT WAYNE – The incentive for the Komets to win Game 5 tonight at the Coliseum is simple.
If they do so, they advance to the next round of the playoffs, avoid having to get back on the bus for a nine-hour ride to Reading, Pa., and won’t give the defending ECHL champion Royals any confidence.
We’ve got three chances to win the series, but we don’t want to take three chances to get it done, said Komets right wing Brandon Marino, whose team has a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Our goal is to come in and take the pace to them, but we know they’re going to come out desperate. If we win again, their season is over and we know they don’t want that. We’ve got to come out, guns blazing and ready to go.
After splitting the first two games in Reading, the Komets won 5-1 at the Coliseum on Thursday and 3-1 Friday, led by goals from Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, Christian Ouellet and Mike Embach.
But the Komets don’t expect Reading, the top seed in the conference, to be easy pickings.
In order to put a team like Reading out, considering they have a lot of championship guys on that roster, we’re going to have to come out Sunday night and take it to them, said Schrock, whose team is seeded eighth.
Hopefully we can create some doubt on their bench.
Fort Wayne has been led by goalie Ben Meisner, who has stopped 95.9 percent of the 121 shots he’s faced.
After starting Brandon Anderson in Game 1, a 2-1 Fort Wayne victory, Riley Gill has played in the last three games for Reading and stopped 90.4 percent of the 94 shots he’s faced.
Both teams have scored three goals in the first periods, while the Komets have outscored the Royals 9-4 beyond that.
Embach and Shawn Szydlowski have a team-leading two goals and four points each. Aaron Clarke has two goals and three points.
Reading has been paced by Sean Wiles’ two goals and three points and Ryan Cruthers’ three assists.
We need to figure out a way to stifle them in the first period and not give them that momentum, Marino said. You never know, in the next game, they could score three goals if we give them momentum and then it will be tough to come back from.
The Komets would also like to improve their power play, which is scoreless in eight opportunities in the series.
The Royals are 2 for 12.
We’re going to play as if we’re behind 3-1 in the next game, Meisner said.