Game 1 in the Central Division portion of the 2023 ECHL Playoffs occurred Friday night at the Heritage Bank Center in Cincinnati. The 4th-seeded Komets played more like the 1st-seeded Cyclones as they took a 3-0 lead into the 3rd period. The lead would fade as the Cyclones scored four unanswered goals to steal game 1 with a 4-3 final in Overtime.
The scoring for Fort Wayne started early as they got the first goal from Oliver Cooper at 2:24 of the period. Cooper took a nice pass from Drake Rymsha and found himself alone in front of Cyclone Goalie Mark Sinclair and didn’t miss.
The first-period scoring was only just getting started for the visiting Komets as Tye Felhaber found the back of the net with 3:51 left in the period. Felhaber picked off a pass as the Cyclones tried to skate the puck out of the zone, and he beat Sinclair with a wrist shot on the glove side.
The final goal of the 1st period came from Felhaber yet again. Felhaber and Garrett Van Wyhe broke out of their zone on a two-on-one, and Felhaber kept the puck the whole way, beating the goalie on another wrister, this one through the five-hole for a 3-0 lead after 20.
Cincinnati came out of the intermission with a goalie change. Beck Warm took over for Sinclair, who gave up three goals on 11 shots—no goals in the 2nd period, but plenty of chances. The Cyclones took four penalties during the period, giving the Komets multiple power play chances, but they did not cash in on them. The Komets also committed two penalties, but the Cyclones did not score. Fort Wayne outshot Cincinnati over the first 40 minutes, 26-25. Blake Siebenaler committed a four-minute minor for high sticking at the end of the period. This gave the Cyclones a chance to start the 3rd on a power play.
The tide turned for the Cyclones in a positive way when the Komets committed another high-sticking penalty, giving Cincinnati a full two minutes with a five-on-three advantage to start the final period. The Cyclones would make Fort Wayne pay for the infractions as Zack Andrusiak put the puck past Ryan Fanti with a beautifully placed wrist shot to make it a 3-1 game with 16:50 left in the 3rd. Andrusiak was not done putting the puck past Fanti as he beat the goalie over the blocker with 13:49 left in the period to creep ever closer to the Komets.
The Cyclones would finally erase the 3-0 lead that the Komets once had when Matt Berry scored on Cincinatti’s 7th power play opportunity. Berry took the puck through the whole Komet defense as he skated the length of the ice for the goal. Cincinnati had thoroughly dominated the period to come all the way back to tie the game.
That would be the last regulation goal, and the teams headed to Overtime. The shots on goal favored Cincinnati 39-32 after 60 minutes. The 6th penalty on the Cyclones had 44 seconds that carried over to the extra frame, but they did not capitalize. Cincinnati had one shot on goal in the extra frame, and that was all they needed, as Louie Caporusso finished the game at 2:42 into Overtime to give the Cyclones the 1-0 series lead. Game 2 will take place Saturday evening; puck drop will be at 7:35 pm.