CINCINNATI, Ohio – Brandon Marino, the ECHL’s leading scorer, converted what proved to be the game-winner as the Fort Wayne Komets (20-14-6-4) handed the Cyclones (26-16-1-1) a 3-2 defeat in front of 5,945 at U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday night. With his first period goal, former Cyclone Mike Embach recorded his fourth point (3 goals, 1 assist) in two games against his old team this season. Three different Komets lit the lamp in the tilt, while goaltender Ben Meisner (W, 24 saves, 8-10-2-0) stopped all but two of the 26 shots he faced in the matchup.
The Cyclones faced an early deficit when a blast by Chris Auger bounced off Joe Howe’s (L, 28 saves, 9-3-1-0) glove and into the net less than two minutes into the game. However, Cincinnati responded quickly when former Cyclone Matt Carter was called for slashing. Four seconds into the ensuing power play opportunity, Dan Eves tipped in a wrist shot from Adam Brace at 2:10. Shortly thereafter, the Komets converted a power play goal of their own when a shot by Embach trickled between Howe’s legs at 8:26. Despite outshooting their opponent 16-10, the Cyclones entered the first intermission trailing by one.
The second stanza was a highly physical affair that featured huge hits on both sides of the ice. When Jonathan Hazen and Taylor Aronson were separately called for slashing, the Komets were rewarded with 94 seconds of five-on-three hockey. Unfortunately for the home crowd, the visitors capitalized on the opportunity as Marino recorded his 19th goal of the season at 7:10. Although the Cyclones successfully killed three penalties to close the period, they only recorded one shot on goal in the frame and entered the final session with a two-goal deficit.
“[I was] working hard down low in the offensive zone and it paid off,” said Malouin of his late-game goal. “[It was] a great pass from Craig and it was a nice goal.”
One minute later, Adam Brace picked the puck at the blue line and was hauled down while streaking down the ice. He was awarded a penalty shot for the offense, but his attempt was stopped by Meisner, preserving the 3-2 victory for the Komets. Minutes after leaving the ice, Malouin, who was named third star of the game, tried not to dwell on the outcome. Instead, he turned his attention to the team’s matchup against Evansville tomorrow night.
“We need to get the two points,” he said. “We need to get back on a winning streak right away.”