Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Jalen Smereck, in his first game since being sent down by Tucson of the American Hockey League, tries to slow down Cincinnati's Mike Barrett but ends up high-sticking him. No penalty was called on the play.
Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Daniel Maggio, left, tries to block a shot from the Cincinnati Cyclones' Daniel Muzito-Bagenda on Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Garrett Thompson, right, beats the Cincinnati Cyclones' Chris Leone in a race for the puck at Memorial Coliseum as Cyclones goaltender Anthony Peters looks on Friday night.
Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Cincinnati forward Dominic Zombo, left, misses the net as he's chased by Komets' Taylor Crunk in front of goalie Michael Houser, Komets' Curtis Leonard and Cincinnati's Brandon McNally.
Saturday, October 28, 2017 1:00 am
Cincinnati 3 Komets 2
Komets get bogged down in loss
Turnovers, slow pace sting team despite rallying from 2 down
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
It certainly didn't apply to Michael Houser, who thrilled the 7,471 fans at Memorial Coliseum and befuddled his former teammates with his goaltending, but coach Gary Graham called the Komets' game Friday night “disgusting, appalling across the board.”
While the Komets rallied from a two-goal deficit to salvage a point in the standings, their 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones included an abundance of turnovers and not much of Fort Wayne's supposed speed.
“I really thought we had a good week of practice, and I'm a little bit in shock about the pace we played at. We were stuck in mud for some reason,” said Graham, after Shawn O'Donnell netted an 8-foot shot for the victory in 3-on-3 overtime.
The Komets' lineup was much different than it had been in the previous game, a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Mavericks on Oct. 21, thanks to injuries to Justin Hodgman, Gabriel Desjardins and Cody Sol, plus the arrival of defenseman Jalen Smereck and forwards Artur Tyanulin and Zac Larraza from Tucson of the higher-level American Hockey League.
They impacted the scoresheet – Tyanulin scored by redirecting a shot, Larraza tied it 3:43 into the third period by winning a race to the puck and shooting low on goalie Anthony Peters, and Smereck had an assist – but they shouldered equal responsibility to their new teammates for the loss despite not having much practice time here.
“This is my third year and I should be used to (moving teams), but this was just not an unacceptable effort for myself and the other two guys, the rookies,” Larraza said. “It may be our first game here, but it's unacceptable for a professional hockey player to come in and have the turnovers we did.”
Houser, who totaled 22 saves, gave up goals to Winston Day Chief off a rebound and Andrew Radjenovic on a slap shot from the right circle. He foiled breakaways by Mike Barrett, Dominic Zombo and Justin Danforth, as the Cyclones (1-1-1), who have totaled only five goals this season, had at least seven odd-man rushes.
“It's always good to get a point (in the standings), but that's two straight losses on home ice and that's unacceptable for us,” defenseman Jason Binkley said. “With this being the only game this week for us, we should have come out a lot harder and a lot faster in the first period. Thankfully, Houser played on his head and held us in there. Getting a point is good, but we didn't play the way we needed to (in order) to win.”
Graham said the Komets (2-1-1) can't use lineup changes as an excuse for giving up 15 of the first 23 shots, failing to score on three power plays and not showing the promise of the first two games.
“You could tell there was not a lot working tonight for us,” Graham said. “You've got to tip your hat to Cincinnati; they worked hard and they created a lot of their stuff. The thing is, it doesn't matter what the lines are, who's in or who's out, you've got to take care of the puck. We had 15 turnovers in the first period. ... It sucks because you waste a great, individual goaltending effort.”