FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Despite dropping the first two games on home ice, the Fort Wayne Komets were able to rally for wins in games three and four to send the series back to Fort Wayne for a must-win game six. If Fort Wayne was to conquer the Nailers, they would battle once more on Tuesday night for a trip to round two. With a Wheeling victory, the Nailers would await their next challenger while the Komets would go golfing. It’s safe to say that the drama of the game’s outcome lived up to the hype.
Fort Wayne didn’t do itself any favors early on, surrendering two power plays to the Nailers. Wheeling was able to strike first when Cam Hausinger took a pass from Chris Ortiz, deked around Komets goaltender Samuel Harvey, and tucked the puck in for the early lead. The Nailers controlled the majority of the period until Anthony Petruzzelli crashed the net and squeezed the puck behind Wheeling’s Louis-Philip Guindon to tie the game at one. Less than a minute later, Zach Pochiro stole a Wheeling pass and sniped a shot in the low corner to give the Komets their first lead heading into the first intermission.
Entering the second, Fort Wayne once again committed an early penalty, and Hausinger made them pay, scoring his second of the night to tie the game back up. The Komets retook the lead halfway through the period when capitalized on a behind the back pass from Matt Alvaro that beat Guindon over his shoulder. The lead was short-lived with Hausinger scoring his third of the night for the hat trick, taking a pass in the crease to knot the game up at three.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the third despite a multitude of chances from both sides that couldn’t beat the opposing goaltender. The game carried on into overtime, dominated early by Fort Wayne until Wheeling came alive in the latter half. It was until just over twelve minutes in that Matt Boudens skated in past a plethora of Wheeling defenders and solved Guindon for the final time on the night, sending this series to a game seven for the following night.
Big Goal Boudens
Boudens’ overtime winner was his second goal of the series. In recent history, he has scored many important playoff goals for the Komets, most notably in their last overtime elimination game last season against the Wichita Thunder. Boudens recently rejoined the Komets from a stint in the American Hockey League, and it’s safe to say that he was missed during the season.
Hat Trick Hausinger
Cam Hausinger did as much as he could for his Nailers, scoring all three goals on the night for his team. He has been a thorn in the Komets’ side all series, now up to seven goals in six playoff meetings. For Wheeling to close out Fort Wayne Wednesday, it will be integral that he makes his presence felt on the ice.
It was another solid display of goaltending from both players between the pipes. Guindon finished with 44 saves on the night, while Harvey stopped 30 for the Komets. All of the goals surrendered by both goaltenders were up close near the net, which should be something to watch going into game seven.
It’s the two best words in hockey. This will be the first time the two sides meet in a winner-take-all matchup. Wheeling will look to win their first playoff series since 2016, while the Komets hope to continue their run to defend their championship from last season. The winner will face the victor of the other Central Division semifinal, the Toledo Walleye, versus the Cincinnati Cyclones, who will also face off in game seven on Tuesday night.
It should be a fun one Tuesday night!
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