Saturday, February 11, 2017 8:10 pm
With coach ejected, K's lose in overtime
Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette
The Komets have won only 2 of 7 games this season that have made it to overtime. But with coach Gary Graham having been ejected in the second period, and the Cincinnati Cyclones playing a physical brand of hockey, getting a point for the standings in a 5-4 overtime loss tonight wasn’t a bad outcome for the Komets.
After Jordan Sims dropped him a pass in the offensive zone, Shawn O’Donnell fired a 35-foot shot that was blocked by Fort Wayne defenseman Curtis Leonard. O’Donnell got a second chance with the puck and fired it past goaltender Pat Nagle to cement the victory 1:15 into overtime.
A night after stopping only 3 of 6 shots and getting pulled early in a 5-4 victory over the Indy Fuel – a game also decided in 3-on-3 overtime on a Colin Mulvey goal – Nagle stopped 23 of 28 Cincinnati shots in front of 6,526 fans at U.S. Bank Arena.
The Komets, who have yet to have a game go to a shootout, are 3-1-1 against the Cyclones this season.
With the ice colored purple to promote cancer awareness, the Cyclones got four assists from Sims, who was born in Fort Wayne and is the son of former Komets coach and player Al Sims.
The Cyclones (23-21-4) scored on 2 of 5 power plays and the Komets (27-14-5) were 0 for 1, as the teams combined for 67 penalty minutes. The Komets are on a 5-1-1 run heading into Sunday’s game at Kalamazoo, Michigan.
A game that was already chippy went to another level in the second period, when Cincinnati’s Christiaan Minella sent Will Weber headfirst into the boards behind the Fort Wayne net just before Nick Huard’s second goal of the night tied it at 3 for Cincinnati. Referee Ben Moser didn’t penalize Minella and Fort Wayne’s Mason Baptista jumped into the Cyclones’ post-goal celebration to fight Jonathan Diaby at 11:44.
Graham was ejected for berating the officials before the ensuing faceoff, leaving the Komets to be coached by player/assistant Jamie Schaafsma with equipment manager Joe Franke also behind the bench.
Garrett Thompson regained the lead for the Komets at 12:35, skating out of the left corner, faking his way through the defense and slipping a backhand shot between the legs of goaltender Michael Houser, who stopped 28 of 32 shots. Cincinnati’s Dylan Nowakowski tied it at 4 at 15:47, just after a fight between Fort Wayne’s Dan Milan and Cincinnati’s Seth Ambroz.
The first period had seen Fort Wayne’s Cody Sol drop the gloves twice, fighting Jaynen Rissling at 4:22 and drawing a double-minor for roughing at 18:31 because he unloaded a flurry of punches on Brandon McNally, who had just driven Sol into the boards so forcefully that the glass popped out of its frame.
The Komets got first-period goals from defenseman Jason Binkley at 6:18 and Weber at 12:16. A turnover forced by Sims set up a goal for Cincinnati’s Shane Walsh at 16:26. A Huard goal 41 seconds into the second period was answered by Fort Wayne’s Trevor Cheek, who has scored in both games since returning from Tucson of the American Hockey League, to put Fort Wayne up 3-2.
Notes: Fort Wayne-native Jackson Leef, the son of former Komets player Ron Leef, is among 26 players that have been nominated for the 16th Joe Concannon Award that recognizes the top American-born college player in Division II or III in New England. Leef has 14 goals and 31 points in 20 games for Westfield State. Current Komets forward Colin Mulvey won the award while at Norwich University in 2013. This year’s winner will be announced in March.