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The shots came at Ben Meisner in different ways, from different guys, and in different situations. But in the end, the four Cincinnati goals that zoomed past the Fort Wayne goaltender in Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss were “easily preventable” according to Meisner.
“To be honest, stopping all four of them were difficult,” Meisner said. “It was just four good goals, so credit (Cincinnati). But they are easily preventable if we can kind of retrace the steps and see where we gave them opportunities.”
Meisner stopped 28 of the Cyclones' 32 shots, as his team fell behind early (5:52, first period) on a breakaway from Cincinnati forward Logan Shaw. Meisner got clean looks on the first and third goals, but still couldn't stop them. He had little time to react following a Komet turnover on the final goal, and on the second goal, he had to try his best to pick the puck out of a horde of bodies and a redirection of the shot.
On the initial goal, as well as Cincinnati's third goal, which came from Cyclone forward Josh Birkholz, Meisner had good looks and time to anticipate the shots, but that didn't matter.
“The first and third shots were unbelievable shots,” Meisner said. “(Josh Birkholz) probably has the best shot on their team.”
Birkholz's goal was not just critical in its significance in forcing the overtime, but its timing was emotionally draining for the 4,716 Komet fans in attendance, who had seemingly just witnessed Kaleigh Schrock smoking the game-winner 22 seconds earlier.
Birkholz got a clean look from the near boards and his shot tied the game at three with less than four minutes remaining in the game. It left Meisner impressed.
“What (Birkholz) did, it was a smart play,” Meisner explained, “he came in and was really open, he pulled the puck about a foot to his inside foot, it's a move the changes the angle and disguises the release. You can't really read that off the blade to well, so you have to rely on quickness. And the puck always travels quicker than your arm does.”
Komets coach Gary Graham instructs his players to “go through the sight-line of the goaltender,” which is what happened on a long shot from the point from Cincinnati forward Zach Budish early in the third period to tie the score at two after it caromed off a Cyclone player and past Meisner.
“They got a really good tip on the second one,” Meisner lamented. “I was all lined up for it and (Budish) redirected it onto the bar.”
This is just the second time in the Komets' 62-year history that they have played overtime in three consecutive playoff games. In 2000, they played three straight overtime games against Quad City, also losing two of three. Saturday Game 4 was the eighth time the Komets have played back-to-back overtime games. Before this series, they did it against Toledo in 1977 and 1979, Salt Lake in 1985, Peoria in 1988 and Rapid City and Missouri in 2012.The most overtime games the Komets have played in a season was five in 1985 when they played 13 games total. They are up to four this postseason.
Former Komets Andrei Mezin and Oleg Mikulchik are part of the Belarus team playing in the IIHF World Championships in their home country. Mikulchik, a retired defenseman who played with the Komets in 1996-97, is an assistant coach with Belarus, while Mezin is one of the team's three goaltenders.
Alaska and Bakersfield have already wrapped up their semifinal series in the Western Conference, while Greenville leads Wheeling 3-2 with Game 6 scheduled for West Virginia tonight. A Game 7 would be played Wednesday. The road team has won four of the five games so far in the Wheeling-Greenville series. Road teams are 15-15 in the Eastern Conference and 17-13 in the Western Conference so far.
Cincinnati is 41-4 since 2007 in the playoffs when the Cyclones lead after two periods -- and two of those losses have come in this series to the Komets... The Komets have scored 14 of their 26 playoff goals in the third period or later... Fort Wayne is 4-2 in one-goal games during the playoffs... Cincinnati has eight players back from last year's teams and Taylor Aronson, Dan Eves and Chris Reed have played at least three seasons with the Cyclones... Tuesday night's May 13 game will be the eighth-latest calendar date the Komets have played a playoff game. They finished on May 17 in 1980, May 20 in 1986 and 1991, May 21 in 1993, May 22 in 2005 and May 25 in 1994... The Komets played their 82nd game of the season on Sunday night. Kaleigh Schrock is the only Fort Wayne player who has previously played more games in a season when he played 84 in 2012 and 88 in 2010... Saturday night Jordon Southorn joined Mike Doersam, Terry Thomson, Danny Lambert and Frankie DeAngelis as the only Komets' defenseman who have scored an overtime goal... The Komets are now 29-36-2 all-time in playoff overtime games. The two ties came from when the old IHL used a round-robin playoff format in 1961.