Dylan Ferguson stopped 45 shots to help lead the Fort Wayne Komets to a 6-4 win over the South Carolina Stingrays in Game 3 of the 2021 Kelly Cup Finals on Wednesday in front of 7,777 fans at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With the win, the Komets take a 2 games to 1 lead in the best-of-five series, and will look to claim their first ECHL championship on Friday in Game 4.
Three nights after the teams combined for six goals in the second period, the first period saw the teams light the lamp five times.
South Carolina struck first with a power-play goal 3:35 into the contest. Dan DeSalvo picked up a loose puck at the hash marks and snapped a shot past Ferguson for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Fort Wayne answered with a power-play goal of its own at 7:01. A.J. Jenks centered a pass to Stephen Harper just inside the left-wing circle, and his one-timer beat Hunter Shepard for his fourth postseason tally.
The Komets took their first lead of the night at 8:40 when Anthony Nellis gathered in the rebound of a Shawn Szydlowski shot and swept a shot into the net for playoff-leading eighth goal.
Just under two minutes after Fort Wayne went on top, the Stingrays’ power play went back to work and scored on a 5-on-3 opportunity at 10:39 to pull even. Cole Ully moved the puck to DeSalvo who blasted a shot past Ferguson for his second goal of the night.
The back-and-forth play continued at 12:30 when Olivier Galipeau hit Szydlowski behind the South Carolina defense and he snapped a shot past Ferguson from the right-wing circle for his first goal of the playoffs.
Brandon Hawkins extended the Komets lead to 4-2 with his sixth goal of the playoffs 10:32 into the second period after gathering in a pass from Randy Gazzola in the slot and lasering a shot past Shepard.
Ferguson was the difference in the second period as South Carolina held a 20-4 edge in shots, but the Komets’ goaltender stopped each of the Stingrays’ attempts. The 20 saves is tied for the third most in a single period in Riley/Kelly Cup Finals history.
Just 30 seconds into the third period, the Komets added another insurance goal as Matthew Boudens rushed into the Stingrays zone and beat Shepard high to the short side for his third postseason goal.
South Carolina cut the Fort Wayne lead to two at the 2:02 mark when Andrew Cherniwchan stole the puck behind the Komets’ net, fed Caleb Herbert in front and after drawing Ferguson down, slid a shot past the goaltender for his third of the playoffs.
Szydlowski scored his second goal of the night, on a power play at 7:38, with a long-range wrist shot to restore the Komets’ three-goal lead.
Fort Wayne will look to claim the 2021 Kelly Cup title in Game 4 of the series on Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET at Fort Wayne.
2021 Kelly Cup Finals
Game 1 – FORT WAYNE 7 at South Carolina 2Game 2 – Fort Wayne 2 at SOUTH CAROLINA 4Game 3 – South Carolina 3 at FORT WAYNE 6Game 4 – Friday, July 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, IndianaGame 5 – Saturday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana (If Necessary)