A game that started with drama – a fracas between the Komets and Allen Americans during warm-ups – ended with a fizzle and a 3-2 loss. The Allen Americans finished off a come-from-behind victory on a goal by Gary Steffes, who redirected Jordan Rowley’s shot just 56 seconds into overtime at Memorial Coliseum.
The Komets trail the Western Conference finals 2-0. They also dropped the first two games at home in the first round to the Cincinnati Cyclones and wound up winning.
This was the fourth overtime game of the playoffs for Fort Wayne, which was 2-1 against Cincinnati in the first round. Allen had been in one previous overtime game, beating Idaho 3-2 in Game 7 of the first round.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series will be Thursday at Allen, Texas.
Even though the teams hadn’t met since 2012, there was a lot of physical play during Allen’s 5-3 series-opening victory Friday, including two full-team shoving matches and a Gabriel Beaupre vs. Steffes fight.
Things intensified during warm-ups today, before the referees, Stephen Reneau and Tyler Puddifant, were even on the ice. Allen’s Dyson Stevenson shot the puck at a Fort Wayne player and Beaupre responded by flicking a puck back. Then, Allen’s Spencer Asuchak upended Fort Wayne’s backup goalie, Spencer Martin, with a stick to the back, setting off a 36-player shouting match at center ice.
The ECHL’s vice-president of hockey operations, Joe Ernst, was in attendance and supplementary discipline could be handed down from the fracas.
(Video highlights above include what started the pre-game fracas.)
There were three fights in the first period, as Fort Wayne’s Mason Geertsen fought Justin Courtnall; Jordon Southorn took on Asuchak, and Shawn Szydlowski had a frenzied, punch-heavy fight with Stevenson.
After getting five of the seven power plays in Game 1, the Americans got the first three today and opened the scoring during a man-advantage at 8:50, when Chad Costello, the ECHL’s leading scorer and MVP this season, blasted a shot from the left circle over sliding defenseman Cody Sol.
The Komets tied it 22 seconds into the second period when Beaupre’s shot from the blue line was redirected into the far side of the net by Garrett Meurs, who had been a healthy scratch in the previous six games. He replaced Taylor Crunk, who had made his playoff debut in Game 1.
Allen’s goaltender, Riley Gill, who limped off the ice after the first period after appearing to injure his leg making a save, took himself out of the game at 4:02 after he’d stopped 8 of 9 shots. His replacement, Joel Rumpel, made his first stop on Meurs at the end of an odd-man rush at 6:56, after which a 10-player scrum broke out in front of the net.
Allen’s Casey Pierro-Zabotel was penalized for slashing goalie Pat Nagle at 7:42 and, on the ensuing 4-on-3 power play, Troy Bourke gave Fort Wayne a 2-1 lead with a blast from the right circle.
The Americans tied it at 2 when Vincent Arseneau got to a rebound and lifted the puck above a sliding Szydlowski, who had obstructed Nagle’s ability to get to the puck, with 29 seconds left in the second period.
Nagle preserved the score with stops of J.P. LaFontaine and Eric Roy from point-blank range early in the third period. Fort Wayne’s Brett Perlini was stopped on two chances from 6 feet out at 10:40. Rumpel also stopped Jordon Southorn’s blast through a crowd at 18:45.
The Komets outshot Allen 25-22 in regulation time.
Notes: The Komets also played without Paul Crowder, David Friedmann, Cody Corbett and Randy Cure. … The Americans played without Rick Pinkston, Aaron Gens, Tristan King, Daniel Doremus, and Gregor Hanson, who had a goal and an assist in Game 1, but was absent for family reasons. … Allen was allowed to dress its third goalie, Jake Hildebrand, after Gill went out. But he could only come in if Rumpel was injured, too. The Komets don’t have a third goalie on their playoff roster but could add one in an emergency situation.