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Reading at Komets
Faceoff: 6 p.m.
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
While most of their fans are filled with excitement after every game, the Fort Wayne Komets are always calm in the locker room. The music is loud, but they are always talking quietly, looking ahead to the next game.
They say they'll get excited when the series is clinched, and they'll have their first chance to do that this evening. The Komets lead the Reading Royals 3-1 heading into a 6 p.m. faceoff at Memorial Coliseum for Game 5. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, would be in Reading on Tuesday and Wednesday.
One key to this series has been the way the Komets have been getting stronger each period. Each team has scored three goals in the first period, the Komets have a 3-1 edge in the second and a 6-3 advantage in the third period.
``I'm getting comfortable with this group,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``With the way we had to battle at the end of the season and the way we had to do things, it's really helping carry over for us. The guys are really holding themselves accountable to a higher standard. Right now we (the coaches) just have to go in and speak about minor adjustments, but the leaders are doing the majority of the talking and the majority of the coaching, to be honest with you.''
The Komets have been pushing ahead in the second period and then clamping down on defense in the third. Two of Reading's three goals in the third-period were empty-net tallies in the Royals' Game 2 victory.
``Everyone has to be reliable defensively,'' alternate captain Chris Auger said. ``You have to be aware. That's how you have to play in the playoffs.''
Part of that is protecting goaltender Ben Meisner who has a 1.25 goals against average and .959 save percentage in the series.
``I thought we got better as the game went on but so did Benny,'' Graham said. ``He continues to impress me. He's very poised in net. It's team success right now. Benny is having success and the team is having success because the team is continuing to come together as a group.''
The Komets have done a great job shutting down the Royals' most dangerous players. Captain Yannick Tifu doesn't have a point, leading goal scorer Domenic Monardo has yet to score and Dustin Gazely is minus-4 after getting send down from the American Hockey League.
Despite the success, Graham still has some areas he wants to keep working on, like the penalty kill. The Komets have allowed only two power-play goals, but that's an area where the coach wants perfection.
``We have to sharpen up some things with a short video session on Sunday before the game,'' Graham said, ``Hopefully, we can clean up some things. We're still looking to get better in the series.''