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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Komets players celebrate after beating Cincinnati in double overtime with over 70 shots in the game during the opening of the Kelly Cup playoffs Saturday night. Game 2 will be at 6 p.m. today at the Coliseum.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Shawn Szydlowski of the Komets prepares to take a shot at the Cincinnati goal during the second period in the ECHL playoffs at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

Sunday, April 15, 2018 1:10 am

ECHL Playoffs Komets 4 Cincinnati 3

K's open with 2OT victory

Jump out to 1-0 lead against Cyclones in first round of ECHL playoffs

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Schedule

Who: Komets vs. Cyclones

What: Central Division semifinals

Series: Komets lead 1-0

Game 1: Komets win 4-3, 2 OTs

Game 2: 6 p.m. Today, at Coliseum

Game 3: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, at Cincinnati

Game 4: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at Cincinnati

Game 5: 3 p.m. April 22, at Cincinnati*

Game 6: 7:30 p.m. April 24, at Coliseum*

Game 7: 7:30 p.m. April 25, at Coliseum*

* if necessary

Everyone in Memorial Coliseum thought the puck was going into the net when Gabriel Desjardins unleashed a shot from eight feet away late Saturday night. But, as he had so many times, Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Jonas Johansson, came up with a huge save.

The rebound came to the stick of Komets captain Jamie Schaafsma, who could see out of the corner of his eye one of the referees making a no-goal signal, and he wanted to make sure there would be no doubt this time around.

“I saw a lot of net,” Schaafsma said. “It was pretty easy to put that one in.”

Schaafsma's shot off the rebound cemented a 4-3 victory for the Komets in double overtime at the Coliseum and gave them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 Central Division semifinals that continues at 6 p.m. today.

“We had a lot of traffic around the net and (Kevin McKernan) made a great play passing it backdoor to (Desjardins),” Schaafsma said. “I was behind him too, but he passed it to Desi and their goalie made a save on Desi. Unfortunately for him, it bounced right on to my tape.”

The injury-riddled Komets, who lost Justin Hodgman to a second-period check from Dominic Zombo that resulted in a match penalty, had just gotten Schaafsma back for this game after he'd missed 17 of the last 21 games with a lower-body injury.

“I felt pretty good out there but when you play a game like that, and we outshoot them like that and play so well, I thought we really deserved to win,” said Schaafsma, whose Komets outshot the Cyclones 72-31 but needed to come back from a 2-0 deficit in a game marked by special-teams play.

Cincinnati scored on 2 of 4 power plays and Fort Wayne was 1 for 5.

“We were down to eight forwards sometimes in the third period and in overtime and our pace didn't diminish, and that was what stood out to me,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “Our pace didn't slow down when we were down guys in our lineup and that said a lot to me.”

The teams have played three playoff series, and 14 playoff games, over five years and reached overtime seven times and double overtime four times. The Komets have a 4-3 record in those games that have gone beyond regulation time.

“It's just one game, though,” Graham said.

The Komets controlled possession of the puck in the opening period, outshooting the Cyclones 16-4, but the only goal was scored by Cincinnati's Daniel Muzito-Bagenda during a power play at 5:26. With Jason Binkley in the penalty box for holding, Muzito-Bagenda skated in from the left boards and tucked the puck between the legs of goalie Michael Houser, who played last season for the Cyclones.

A stroke of bad luck put the Komets in a two-goal hole. Muzito-Bagenda fired the puck down the boards from center ice and Houser went behind the net to stop it, but it caromed inexplicably off the boards and went to the front of the net, where Justin Vaive backhanded it into an open net a minute into the second period.

With the teams skating 4-on-4, Shawn Szydlowski won a faceoff back to Daniel Maggio, whose rocketing slapshot from 50 feet out eluded Johansson 9:30 into the second period to cut the Cyclones' lead to one goal. Szydlowski was announced as the ECHL's MVP on Friday, after a vote among coaches, reporters, broadcasters and media relations directors.

Penalties continued to play a part and the Komets tied it at 2 on a power-play goal, with Zombo serving a slashing penalty at 13:13, as a Szydlowski shot caromed off Johansson and Garrett Thompson was there to snap the puck into an open net.

Zombo was assessed his match penalty 2:19 later.

Though the Komets failed to score on the ensuing five-minute power play, they took a 3-2 lead 6:39 into the third period on a Ryan Lowney one-timer, after Justin MacDonald set him up with a pass from the corner.

But Cincinnati's Justin Schultz, who finished second to Szydlowski for the ECHL's regular-season scoring title (79 to 75 points), tied it at 3 with a shot from the top of the right circle at 8:41, as Mason Baptista was in the penalty box for high-sticking.

jcohn@jg.net