The Komets have prided themselves all season long on their resiliency. Now we’re going to see what they’re really made of in that department.

After suffering a 3-2 loss in Game 4 of the Central Division semifinals Friday to the Cincinnati Cyclones at Memorial Coliseum, Sunday’s 6 p.m. Game 5 at the same venue has become a must-win situation for the Komets.

Down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, the Komets are going to have to rein in their penalties – which hindered them in the regular season, when they led the league in penalty minutes per game, and returned Friday – if they’re to force the series back to the Heritage Bank Center.

“We’re a Jekyll-and-Hyde team. We showed that during the regular season. And for the first time in this series, we saw what we were doing during the regular season. We played very individualist, with no sense of a buy in,” said Fort Wayne coach Ben Boudreau, whose team lost the first two games of the series despite controlling much of the play, then played its best game in a calendar year with a 3-0 victory Tuesday at the Coliseum.

“On Tuesday, we played a 60-minute, perfect hockey game. I didn’t see any resemblance of that tonight until the third period, in terms of getting on the same page and playing the same way.”

Garrett Van Wyhe and Samuel Dove-McFalls score for the Komets in a 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones, who lead the series 3-1. Clips from: FloHockey/ECHL/Komets

Cincinnati, the division champion during the regular season, scored on 2 of 8 power plays. Fort Wayne was 0 for 4.

“Special teams was the difference again – and has been in all three wins against us – and we took eight minors. That’s way too many, way too many, for a playoff game,” Boudreau said. “And you start taking penalties and yelling at the refs, yelling at each other. It just goes back to playing individualistic hockey. Then you come out in the third and play as team, you score two goals, you earn your power plays and your opportunities, and you have them on their heels.”

Cincinnati goaltender Beck Warm finished with 36 saves, giving up  goals to Garret Van Wyhe and Samuel Dove-McFalls in the third period.

“Definitely, that one stings,” Van Wyhe said. “Going down 3-1 in a series is never good for the mentality, but I think where we go from here is we come back tomorrow and figure out some Xs and Os.

“I think we went astray right from the start of the game, from the puck drop. We had a lot of good chances and came back a lot, picked up sticks and stuff like that, but there were a few bounces here and there and some undisciplined penalties.”

Fort Wayne’s Ryan Fanti stopped 24 of 27 shots, on the heels of his 35-save Game 3 shutout.

By not allowing a goal during the first 8:36, Fanti established a new Komets record for longest shutout streak in a postseason – 116 minutes, 55 seconds – a run that began in the first period of Game 2 and was halted at 16:19 into the first period Friday when Justin Vaive redirected a Jalen Smereck shot during a power play.

The previous record of 109:12 was set by Reno Zanier in the International Hockey League’s 1960 semifinals.

Komets vs Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s Zack Berzolla collides with the Komets’ Ryan Fanti on Friday at Memorial Coliseum.

Cyclones forward Patrick Polino, made it 2-0 at the end of an odd-man rush 4:03 into the second period that was created when Fort Wayne’s Daniel Maggio turned the puck over to Smereck at the offensive blue line.

Cincinnati forward Matt Berry scored a power-play goal at 10:04. He got to a loose puck 20 feet from the goal, spun and fired an errant shot that caromed off Fort Wayne defenseman Marcus McIvor, who was knelt on the ice, and cruised behind Fanti’s back to make it 3-0.

Cincinnati had eight of the game’s first 11 power plays, and referees Brenden Schreider and Rocco Stachowiak were consistently jeered by the crowd of 7,277. Boudreau said he “didn’t love” the officiating, but he placed most of the blame for the power-play disparity on a lack of discipline from his players.

Van Wyhe scored 39 seconds into the third period. He skated along the boards, put on the brakes, spun and shot from the right circle, and the puck banked off Cincinnati defenseman Matthew Cairns and into the net.

Dove-McFalls scored at 17:31 after a Tye Felhaber crossing pass set him up alone, just outside the right goalpost.

“That’s the question that’s going to plague us: What (Komets) team is going to show up?” Boudreau said. “What team is going to buy into a 60-minute game plan? We didn’t do that through the first 40 minutes and I thought we shot ourselves in the foot with a lot of selfish penalties, killed all our momentum. (The Cyclones) found a way to make us pay.”

Fort Wayne defenseman Jacob Graves and forward Tristan Pelletier were back in the lineup after they missed five games each with undisclosed injuries, though top-pair defenseman Adam Brubacher was scratched after suffering an upper-body injury during the first shift of Game 3.

Komets vs Cincinnati

The Komets’ Jacob Graves checks Cincinnati’s Matt Berry Friday at Memorial Coliseum in Game 4 of the Central Division semifinals.

The Komets were also without top-line forward Drake Rymsha – he was knocked from the third period of the 2-1 loss in Game 2 by a Zach Berzolla hit – along with forward William Provost, defenseman Scott Allan and defenseman Alex Peters.

A loss Sunday would end the Komets’ 71st season and probably kick off an offseason of several changes; Boudreau’s contract, for example, is expiring and the nucleus of the roster is under scrutiny after a roller coaster of a regular season.

The Toledo Walleye, which completed a sweep of the Indy Fuel on Thursday, awaits the winner of this 2-3-2 formatted series.

Notes: In the series, Fort Wayne’s two leading goal scorers from the regular season – Shawn Boudrias, who had 33, and Anthony Petruzzelli, who had 25, have no goals and only two assists. … All three times the Cyclones have been held scoreless this season, including the playoffs, Vaive has netted the first goal of the following game. Vaive played for the Komets in 2021, when they won the Kelly Cup, and is the Cyclones’ captain. … The Cyclones played a man short of a full 19-player lineup in Game 3, then inserted forward Luka Burzan into the lineup Friday. He skated this season with the Komets and his rights were dealt to the Wichita Thunder for Peters, then flipped to the Cyclones.

Senior Writer

Justin A. Cohn, senior writer for The Journal Gazette, has covered Fort Wayne sports since 1997. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, he was named Sportswriter of the Year by the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association in 2020.