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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Cincinnati’s Chris Reed, left, is pursued by the Komets’ Shawn Szydlowski during a Feb. 14 game.

Cyclones brace for tough series with K’s

– Cincinnati Cyclones coach Ben Simon knows the task in front of his team is formidable.

“Obviously, we’re thrilled to get through the first round and focused on Fort Wayne in the second round. But we’re very, very wary of the fact that Fort Wayne has won 11 of 15 games and finished out strong,” said Simon, whose Cyclones ousted the Orlando Solar Bears in a six-game series that concluded Tuesday.

The Cyclones are the highest remaining seed in the Eastern Conference at No. 5. Fort Wayne, which is an eight seed, defeated the top-seeded, defending champion Reading Royals in five games.

“The Komets are obviously playing with a lot of confidence,” Simon said. “But we’re confident as well.”

The Komets went 5-1-2 against the Cyclones this season, including a 4-0-0 record at U.S. Bank Arena, where Games 1 and 2 will be today and Saturday.

“It’s interesting. Both teams in the regular season, both had success in the other team’s building,” Simon said. “Playoffs are a different doughnut, though, and we have to take advantage of the comforts of home. It’s playoff advantage, but in a 2-3-2 format, opposed to a 2-2-1-1-1, it’s just different.

“We may have to start taking advantage of being the highest remaining seed in the Eastern Conference, use that to our advantage.”

The Cyclones were 1-2 at home against Orlando, while the Komets were 1-1 on the road against Reading.

The Cyclones have been led in playoff scoring by Byron Froese’s five goals and seven points. The Komets have been paced by Shawn Szydlowski’s two goals and six points.

“Their top line is very dangerous with (league scoring champion) Brandon Marino, Chris Auger and Scott Fleming, who also puts up great numbers,” Simon said. “You look right down the chart there and that second line is good, too, with Szydlowski, (Mike) Embach and Aaron Clarke.

“We look at a lot of things and, you know, to be successful in this league you can’t have just one line. You have to have depth. Both teams have it.”

Simon said his goalie, Rob Madore, has been great. Madore is 4-1-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.

“He’s been our rock,” he said. “We’ve probably relied on him too much.”

While the Komets’ power play has been 0 for 13 in the playoffs, Cincinnati has been only 1 for 16.

“You have to take advantage of special teams in the playoffs,” Simon said. “You won’t get as many calls or power plays as you want, so when you win the special teams, it’s important.”