FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Komets gained a split of the first two ECHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series games against the defending Kelly Cup Champion Royals at Reading’s Santander Arena last Thursday and Saturday. The best-of-seven series switches to Fort Wayne for games three, four and five. Game three of the series will faceoff Thursday at 7:30pm and game four will be Friday night at 8:00. Game five is slated for Sunday at 6pm at the Memorial Coliseum.
ECHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Fort Wayne Komets vs Reading Royals
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
1) Thursday, April 17………..Fort Wayne Komets 2, at Reading Royals 1
2) Saturday, April 19……….at Reading Royals 4, Fort Wayne Komets 2
3) Thursday, April 24………..Reading Royals at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm
4) Friday, April 25……………Reading Royals at Fort Wayne, 8pm
5) Sunday, April 27………….Reading Royals at Fort Wayne, 6pm
6) *Tuesday, April 29……….Fort Wayne Komets at Reading Royals, 7:05pm
7) *Wednesday, April 30…..Fort Wayne Komets at Reading Royals, 7:05pm
*- If necessary
About the first two— The series opened on Reading ice Thursday with the Komets taking a 2-1 win. Fort Wayne made their ECHL playoff debut outshooting Reading 39-21 and took a 1-0 series lead on goals by Mike Embach (LW) and Shawn Szydlowski (RW). Brandon Marino (RW) extended his personal point-scoring streak to seven games with and assist on Embach’s tally (4g, 5a). Embach also dished an assist on the game winner for a two-point night. Goaltender Ben Meisner captured his first pro playoff win making 20 saves.
Saturday the Royals evened the series with a 4-2 win over the Komets. Fort Wayne’s Szydlowski posted his second goal of the series for a personal three-game point streak (2g, 1a) for a 1-1- tie after Sean Wiles (F) opened the game with a goal for Reading. After a scoreless second period, the Royals mounted a two-goal lead in the third on tallies by Brandon Blandina (F) and Josh Brittain (F). Brittain hit an empty net at 18:51 after netminder Meisner was pulled for the extra attacker. Then, with Meisner pulled again for the extra forward, Komet defenseman Jordon Southorn connected with 50 seconds remaining in the match to pull the Komets within one at 3-2. Finally, Reading’s Kevin Walrod (F) put the game out of reach for the Komets with an empty netter at 19:55.
Playoff milestones— Meisner earned his first pro playoff win Thursday at Reading…..Scott Fleming (C) registered his first pro playoff point Saturday (assist)…..First pro playoff appearances Thursday at Reading: Fleming, Matthew Maione (D), Joe Hartman (D) and William Lacasse (D). Komet head coach Gary Graham is making his ECHL playoff debut in his premier season behind the Fort Wayne bench. Graham led Pensacola to the SPHL title last season and guided the Komets to a 36-24-12 regular season record in his first year with the Komets in the ECHL.
Komet playoff leaders— After the first two games of the Easter Conference quarterfinals, Shawn Szydlowski and Mike Embach lead with two points each. Szydlowski leads with two goals while five players are tied with an assist each including Embach, Aaron Clarke (LW), Simon Danis-Pepin (D), Scott Fleming and Brandon Marino. Embach also leads with +2 and Jordon Southorn (D) leads with 14 penalty minutes. Goalie Ben Mesiner is 1-1 after the first two games (120 minutes) and has made 47 saves on 50 shots for a 1.51 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.
The playoffs in Fort Wayne— The Komets will host the next three playoff games on Coliseum ice. Game 3 of the series Thursday will be the first ECHL playoff game in the history of the Fort Wayne Komets. The Komets are making their 53rd playoff appearance in Fort Wayne and Thursday’s match will be Fort Wayne’s 496th playoff game in the history of the Komets in Fort Wayne since 1952. The Komets’ last playoff appearance was when they won the Central Hockey League’s Presidents’ Cup in 2012 for their ninth league championship. The ECHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals is the 97th playoff series in Komet history (53-43).