Archive for January, 2010

Last night the Cyclones put together one of Their best performances of the year and took it to the South Carolina Stingrays defeating them a 3-2 in overtime. If you missed it, you can check out the video highlights here.

In my last post I stated how large a test this was for the Team. South Carolina came in to the game with the League’s best record and an abundance of goal scorers. There is always a question when you see a team from another Division play to a good record, but this wasn’t the case with South Carolina. They have dominated in the South and have more than held their own when opposing teams from the East and North Divisions. South Carolina is a legitimate contender for another Kelly Cup Championship. They have good size, they skate very well, and play a disciplined, team oriented game.

In order to win, or even to simply play with the Stingrays, the Cyclones had to match that style of play. We know the Cyclones can be disciplined so that wasn’t going to an issue. My biggest concern was whether or not the Boys would show up from the opening drop and play for a full 60 minutes or longer. The Guys answered my concern and matched the Stingrays stride for stride.

I don’t want to make the game sound like it was all sunshine and strawberry fields. The Stingray offense generated many good scoring chances and actually out shot the ‘Clones 37-27. The Cyclones could have easily be playing from behind if it weren’t for the team defense of the Cyclones. The Boys kept up with Their stingy defensive play, harmlessly clearing the few rebounds that Robert Mayer left on the weak side. Some say you have to make your own luck in the game of hockey and the Guys worked hard in that department. It seemed like every puck that trickled around or past Mayer was either cleared from the goal mouth, Brett Robinson had a particularly good one late in the 3rd, or they went wide. On the flip side it seemed that the Boys were in the right place at the right in the offensive zone as well.

It was apparent that both teams showed up to play last night. It will be interesting to see what the rematch next Thursday night will bring. Before the Cyclones can think about that they must first deal with the rough turnaround that is a trip to Kalamazoo tonight.

The K-wings are coming off a 5 day rest and the Cyclones will be playing Their 6th game in 9 days, not to mention  They’ll be dealing with the emotional and mental fatigue that comes with an overtime win against the League’s leaders. The Cyclones have dominated the season series with Kalamazoo to this point, but tonight could be a potential let down. However, the Cyclones have a 3 day break from games coming up, so if they can harness the same energy and play as they did last night for one more game, there really isn’t a reason to think a let down will be the case.

In other, possibly related observations,

– The Cyclones went with an odd line up last night, dressing 11 forwards and just 5 defensemen. Absent from the D-core was Dwayne Zinger. Zinger was active in the previous game against Charlotte after being scratched for a few.

– Speaking of Dwayne Zinger, it’s common knowledge that I’m not a huge fan of Dwayne. I do like his leadership and grit and was concerned about skating down one defenseman from the start. After watching the game for just a few minutes it was clear that, at least in my opinion, that Dwayne would not have been able to keep up with the pace of the Stingrays. I have no idea if Dwayne is nursing yet another injury or if it was a strategic move to keep both Morehouse and Benson in  for grit and allowing for Mark Voakes to return to the line up to add some skill, all the while taking the lumbering Zinger out of the equation.

– It was great seeing Mark Voakes back on the ice. He played very well for a guy that hasn’t been in the line up regularly for more than a month, especially on the power play. One can’t help but wonder if he could have been the Teams 3rd All Star had been been healthy for the first half.

– I said in my last post it was going to be crucial for the Cyclones to take advantage of Power Play chances against the Stingrays. The Cyclones went 2 for 4 against the 6th best PK in the lead. The spark that started with Kilpatrick grew to a flame with the addition of Voakes. Hopefully it’s a trend that will continue.

– Robert Mayer was on his game. The big question mark at the beginning of the season was how the two young net minders would develop. Both have proven there metal. Sure there have been a few hiccups along the way and i’m sure there will be a few more, but as long as the great games keep out numbering the bad ones I like our chances.

– What more is there to say about Chris Morehouse. I love the way this kid plays. It’s great that he’s here too because it doesn’t seem that anyone wants to fight Hans Benson. It’s OK though, I haven’t seen Chris turn down a fight yet and the guys that come after him are surprised to find out how tough the kid is.

– I really don’t think anyone in the ECHL wants to fight Hans Benson. I’ve seen Hans have “conversations” with several players and they all back down from Hans and then choose to go with Morehouse a few minutes later.

– Yesterday I made the speculation that we could be seeing Chris Higgins be assigned here at some point as a result of the McLean deal. Higgins was recalled by Syracuse, Gwinnetts AHL affiliate, but no other movement has been announced. Syracuse played last night but and Higgins was not in the line up. So at this point it’s hard to say what the “future considerations” were, are or will be.

– According to the AHL transaction page the Cyclones will be without the services of forward Ian McKenzie tonight in Kalamazoo. He has been recalled to Mikwaulkee by Nashville.

-Mike-

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The Cyclones season to this point has had it’s testing points and for the most part the team has passed. The 1st dates circled on the calendar were November 13th and 14th, the 1st meetings with Kalamazoo. That was a rocky weekend but after that the Boys found the K-wings number and have gone on to dominate the series at this point. Next up was a date with Toledo. Initially things looked well, but Cyclones can’t seem to get past the Walleye on a consistent basis.

With mid November in the past, the next dates I had circled were December 4th and 5th, when Malcolm Cameron’s Florida Everblades came to town. Coach Cameron has been known to put extremely talented teams together, but the Cyclones proved what they were made of taking both games from a team that was probably an early season pick to win their conference.  From there things would return to normal with the Boys getting a heavy dose of the North Division.

That brings us the next set of tests to challenge the Boys. On Wednesday night the Cyclones had a solid 4-1 win against the South Divisions Charlotte Checkers. The Boys got on the board early and often, eventually chasing Checker’s starting goalie Ryan Munce from the net. After the goalie switch the game tightened up a bit and the Cyclones could only manage 1 additional goal. Charlotte was missing some key players and played a fairly passive and soft game, which was most likely dictated by their short bench. While the Cyclones offense could only manage 1 goal in the last two periods the defense played well; limiting the the Charlotte scoring chances. I expect to see a different game out of Charlotte when they return in late February.

That leaves us with South Carolina, who the Cyclones will play twice within a week. The past two seasons the Cyclones and the Stingrays have met in the Conference Finals with the Winner going on to become the eventual Kelly Cup Champion. Last season the Stingrays ousted a beaten, battered and bruised Cyclones Squad from the 08-09 Kelly Cup Playoffs and have kept the momentum rolling into this season. They jumped out to an early season Division and Conference lead, but they had played many more games so it was hard to judge exactly how good they were. As the season progressed it became more apparent that South Carolina was setting themselves up to be the team to beat. They are currently on top of the Conference with Cyclones, who have 4 games in hand, trailing them by 13 points.  South Carolina brings in the Leagues 10th best Power Play at 17.5% and the Leagues 6th best Penalty Kill at 83.6%. Much like the Cyclones, the Stingrays play with in the rules and don’t take a lot of penalties; it will be very important for the boys to take advantage of any man adavantage opportunities they get. The Stingrays lead the League in the “goals for” category while the Cyclones are amongst the Leagues stingiest when it comes to giving up goals. There is little doubt the Stingrays can score in bunches looking at the teams individual stats. The Stingrays line up boasts 9 players with point totals of 20 or higher, with 5 of those players posting 30 or more points. The Cyclones by comparison have just 5 players topping 20 points. The Cyclones do top the Stingray in 40+ point scorers with 2 to South Carolina’s 1.  It sets up an interesting match up to see which trend will take charge.

In other news…

– Where in the world is Bryan Leitch? I thought Michael Busto was becoming well traveled, but Leitch has left Busto in he lurch, joining his 5 team of the season. Bryan started the season with the Cyclones, was sent to Alaska, was then reassigned to Florida, then Kalamazoo and now finds himself with Toledo.

– Chuck has been busy, working to complete a deal sending Mike McLean to Gwinnett. McLean, who is under contract with Milwaukee, was recalled by the Admirals and then immediately assigned to Gwinnett. In return, the Cyclones receive “future considerations.” In a possibly related move, Gwinnett’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch recalled Chris Higgins, could he be headed our way? It’s purely speculation, but if he is, I doubt it will be announced until the last minute. I can’t say I’m surprised to see McLean get relocated. I was expecting big things from him this year, especially after seeing him perform well last season on a bad Dayton Bomber team. He had some good games this season, and posted 21 points but he was also -13 on the season. Scoring is great but becomes obsolete if you don’t take care of your own end; Thomas Bearegard anyone?

– According to the AHL transaction page Jason Jozsa has been recalled to Milwaukee, but according to ECHL’s Leaguestat page, he is active for the Cyclones. Jason was absent in the game against Charlotte, which forced Dwayne Zinger back into action. If Jason is still on recall with the Admirals, let’s hope he gets some ice time.

-It looked like the rest did Dwayne Zinger some good. He had one horrendous clearinf attempt that appeared to be more like pass to a Charlotte forward, but other than that played well.

– According to my count the suspension to Adam Henrich expired last week. I haven’t seen any other news regarding him. If nothing surfaces, I’ll try to get some information at the Coach’s Show on Monday.

-Mike-

Twenty-four hours after a lethargic looking Cyclones Squad took it on the chin from the Kalamazoo K-wings, the tables turned and the Boys took the K-wings down to the river and flogged them accordingly. The 6-1 victory saw both Jimmy Kilpatrick and Matt Pierce tally 2 goals apiece with Eghoetz and Sheahan adding the others. The win catapulted the Team back to the top spot in the North Division thanks to the 8-2 beat down the Elmira Jackals handed to the Toledo Walleye. A quick look at the schedule and standings shows the Cyclones leading the Walleye by 1 point and the K-wings by 2 points with the K-wings hosting the Walleye later on this afternoon. Let’s hope the K-wings have a little left in the tank and can beat the Walleye in regulation; a Kalamazoo regulation win keeps the Cyclones on top.

I said yesterday that when a Chuck Weber Cyclone’s team keeps their feet moving they can play with and beat anyone. That was the difference between Friday and Saturday nights. In my observation Kalamazoo played they same game they have played every time I’ve watched them. They are an aggressive team, applying pressure and attacking the game in transition. On Friday night the Boys didn’t keep their feet moving and it allowed the Kalamazoo pressure and attack to be incredibly effective. On Saturday night the Boys kept moving, beating the K-wings to and from open space; moving makes an aggressive team miss checks and ultimately forces them to chase the play rather than allowing their aggressiveness to dictate the play. The K-wings didn’t help themselves in offering the Cyclones 12 Power Play opportunities but that’s what happens to an aggressive team that finds themselves chasing the play; missed checks lead to hooks, holds, and other infractions.

– How different is the play of Ryan Nie when he has an early lead to work with than when he gives one up early? That’s exactly what happened between Friday and Saturday nights and it was like watching two different goalies.

– Jeremy Smith played a great game. It’s unfortunate that will all of the great saves he made that a fluttering wrist shot floated over his shoulder to foil his shut out bid.

–  Did anyone else notice how quick the Cyclones Defense looked last night? Oh yeah Dwayne Zinger was scratched.

– Chris Morehouse is everything Mitch Woods was supposed to be but wasn’t. He agitates, he goes to the dirty areas of the ice without fear, he sticks up for his teammates and he simply just works hard. Most importantly, he does it all without being a penalty magnet.

– Ian Mckenzie? I don’t recall hearing Ian being listed as a healthy scratch, but I could have missed it because I was applauding the move to scratch Dwayne Zinger. Ian is not listed on any of the transaction lists as of yet either. I sent a message to the guys that write the Admirals Short Shifts blog and they said that they believe McKenzie to be in Milwaukee but he has not been listed as a scratch for the Admirals either. Hmmmmm

– The Power Play looked much better scoring 3 goals on 12 chances. Jimmy Kilpatrick tallied 2 very nice PP markers and Barret Ehgoetz beat Nie, who was forced to move post to post, cleanly from the top of the circle through a partial screen. The puck movement and player rotations were much improved, especially on the 5 on 3.

– Cyclones fans got there first look at FNG Patrik Prokop. I have a rule when evaluation defensemen; defenseman get noticed for 2 primary reason: 1) scoring a goal (good) and 2) defensive failures that result in a goal (bad). Sure, d-men pitch in with assists, but they go largely unnoticed. And yes, d-men sometimes make spectacular plays to break up scoring chances, but isn’t that what they are supposed to do? If a d-man goes unnoticed during a game, then in my opinion, he played a good game. If he can go unnoticed in the defensive zone and add a goal like Sheahan did last night, or O’Hanely, Jozsa and yes, even Zinger, have in the past, then he had a great game. I’m not sure how many shifts Prokop had, I’m sure all the Power Play time cut into his ice time a bit, but he didn’t disappoint me. He didn’t make me jump out of my seat either, but for a rookie playing in just his 17th Professional game, he proved to be capable. Granted, he’s only played 2 games with the Cyclones, but so far I like what I see.

– The Cyclones sent the 6485 in attendance home happy with coupons for free Wendy’s Frostees and coupons for $5 off at City Barbeque. The victory was the 4th time the Cyclones have sent the fans home with BBQ, and it was the 2nd time it has been at the expense of the K-wings.

– The Boys take to the ice again on Monday when they take on a surging Johnstown Chiefs team.

-Mike-

The Cyclones took a trip to Kalamazoo last night in their return to action after the All Star break. Kalamazoo was kind enough to give the Boys a tour of their wood shed, specifically the area out back, where they where taken and handed a 7-1 beat down. The game was the 1st of a home and home series with the K-wings and also kicked off a series of 3 games in 4 nights and ultimately finishes up with the Cyclones playing6 games in 9 nights; 3 of those 6 games will be played against Kalamazoo.

The game started ugly with the Cyclones giving up a goal just 1:01 into the game. The K-wings didn’t look back and played like a team with something to prove against the Cyclones, who had a 6-1-0-1 record against the K-Wings going into the game. It ended just as bad with Kalamazoo adding the extra point with 4 seconds left in the game.

From my perspective watching on the B2 it looked as if the Cyclones had take a week off and the K-wings had stayed in Kalamazoo and practiced all week. The K-wings didn’t appear to be doing anything different from what they usually do. The difference in this game was the Cyclones. The Boys looked lethargic, getting beat to loose pucks, getting pushed off the puck, and simply not moving their feet.

Anyone who has been to more than a handful of games the past few seasons has seen the difference between a Chuck Weber Cyclones Team when they skate and when they don’t. When they Boys keep their feet moving they can compete with anyone. When they don’t the problems begin to compound. That is what I observed in this game. It wasn’t that Kalamazoo was that much faster, they just took advantage of the Cyclones sluggishness.

We all know that the Boys have to take care of their own games first but the ugly loss is compounded by Toledo’s loss to Elmira. The game was a chance to put some distance between Themselves and Kalamazoo as well as retaking the top spot in the Division.

I’m sure it wasn’t a pleasant bus ride home for the Boys. Hopefully taking it on the chin will prove to be a strong motivator and the Boys will come out firing on all cylinders tonight and the next week.

***

-I’m not saying this blog has anything to do with it, but back when I was questioning Dwayne Zinger he started playing better so I quite being critical of him. However, since I quite being critical, he has gone back to being quite unimpressive; He let Sam Ftorek skate right around him last night for crying out loud. I’ll give him a pass on last night’s game though, simply because everyone was terrible.

-For the 2nd straight game Hans “short fuse” Benson’s night ended early. In the last game before the All Star Break Hans dropped Toledo’s Luis Tremblay with what appeared to be a sucker punch, but Tremblay also received an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty in the altercation. Hans was not suspended for the altercation and one can only imagine what Tremblay did. Fast forward a week and Hans drops Kalamazoo’s Mitch Versteeg. The altercation began when Versteeg hit Benson with a hip check that fell into the gray area of being a low hit. I say low hit because it was below the waste but it didn’t look like it was as low as the knee; I could understand a referee’s decision regardless of whether it was whistled or not. In any event, Benson hopped up and engaged Versteeg. It look for an instance that Versteeg might oblige Benson and before Versteeg knew it, Benson had caught him twice square on the button. Versteeg fell to a heap on the ice and remained there for several minutes writhing around. Benson was given a Fighting major, an Instigating minor and a game misconduct. Versteeg was given an Unsportsmanlike Conduct minor, most likely for embellishing while on the ice.  I have not seen any words as of yet if there will be any suspension given to Benson.

-In some other news, former Cyclone James “Bubba” Sixsmith has been signed by Milwaukee. His ECHL rights belong to Utah so we will not see him sent here at any point unfortunately. James has been up and down between a few AHL teams and I’m glad he getting a shot again. I was hoping to see him back in Cincy in 08-09 but he was released by Milwaukee. He got lost with all of the talent the 07-08 team had, but I always like what James brought to the ice.

-Mike-

The All Star week is over and the Boys return to action with a home and home against Kalamazoo which begins tonight in Kalamazoo. The Cyclones will play 3 games in 4 nights to kick off a 9 day stretch that sees them play 6 games; trips to Kalamazoo bookends the stretch.  I hope the week off allowed everyone to heal up and get rested.

-Speaking of the All Star Game, Matt Pierce and Jeremy Smith represented the club well on the ice and I’m sure Bob did a great job as well.

Now I’m gonna take my own advice and get to the point of today’s blog.

One thing jumps out at me when I  look at the standings for the Division and Conference; the Cyclones rarely take games to overtime. Toledo has 4 points from getting games to overtime and then losing, Kalamazoo has 5 points, South Carolina has 6 and Reading has 4. The Cyclones have managed just 1 point from an overtime loss.

Now there are a couple ways to look at this. First off, the Boys have gone to OT or shootouts 5 times this season and have won 4 of them so in that regard, the lack of OT loses is not a concern. However, if I look at it from the loss column perspective, it’s a different story. As I pointed out in my last entry the Cyclones have been involved in a number of close games that were loses; of Their 14 regulation loses, 9 have been by 1 goal or 2 goals (with the extra goal being of the late empty net variety). That, in my opinion is leaving points on the table.

During the 2007-2008 season, the Cyclones went down to the very last game in a battle with Texas Wildcatters for the Brabham Cup. That season the Cyclones finished tied with Texas in points and won the Cup based on having 3 more wins than Texas. The difference, and the reason Texas was even in the running for the Brabham Cup, was in the loss column. That season the Cyclones lost 12 games in regulation, and 5 in OT or shoot outs. Texas on the other hand only lost 9 games in regulation and took 11 to OT or shoot outs before losing. Yes,  the Cyclones, went on to win the Kelly Cup that season and Texas was bounced my South Carolina, but this year making the playoffs will be more difficult, with more teams competing for the same 8 spots, not to mention the advantage of home ice for a round or two that comes with being a Division winner.

The standings right now are tight. In the North Division there is only a 5 point difference between the 1st and last place teams. In the Conference, South Carolina has jumped out to a sizable lead, but there is just a 5 point difference between the 2nd and 8th place teams. If the Cyclones had been able to take half of their 14 regulation loses to OT before losing they could be sitting on top of the Division with 56 points and trailing South Carolina by 8 points with 4 games in hand.

Unfortunately all of that is in the past. Going forward it will become increasingly more important to take points at every opportunity. If the Cyclones can manage to keep to Their winning ways but also turn regulation loses into OTL’s or SOL’s, there is no reason to think they can’t make a run at not only the top of the Division and Conference, but the League as well.

-Mike-

It’s the All Star break, and while Matt Pierce, Jeremy Smith and Bob Case are out in Ontario, California representing the Cyclones during the ECHL All Star events, I thought I’d dive deeper into a few of the passing thoughts I’ve had in earlier entries.

Before I get too far there is a little house keeping. First, all of the ECHL All Star Events can be seen on the B2 Networks. The Skills Competition will air on Tuesday (1/19/10) at 7pm Pacific Time and the puck drops on the All Star Game on Wednesday (1/20/10) at 7pm Pacific Time as well. Both events will be aired free of charge at B2TV.com .Oh and check your DirecTV and Dish Network channels because you might be able to catch the Game there as well if you have the right package.  Secondly, in case you haven’t heard by now, Dustin Sproat and Mike Mclean have been sent back to Cincinnati. Hopefully the All Star Break will allow the guys to recharge from what, according to Dustin’s Twitter, was a fairly involved travel schedule back to Cincinnati.

And now, the rest of the story…

Chuck Weber has a saying that goes something like this… if the special team’s percentages add up to 110 then they are going to win games, around 105 and they’re doing O.K. and less than 100, well let’s just say it’s not good… The Cyclones currently sit at 98.4. While the Penalty Kill, which started the season on fire has dipped a bit lately (83.2% which is 6th in the League allowing 30 goals on 179 opportunities, but also leads the League in short handed goals with 12) most of the blame falls to the Power Play Unit which is 18th in the League having scored just 35 goals on 230 opportunities for a scant conversion rate of 15.2%.

Coach Weber incorporates different systems for the PK depending on who he has on the ice. As we saw last year, when the PK suffered mightily until we added the Fresno Three (Sproat, Coghlan and O’Hanely); having the proper personnel is key to Weber’s PK systems. When Sproat and Mclean were called up, Weber resorted to splitting up the top PK forward pair of Ehgoetz and Reynolds which allowed the PK to plug along and not be terrible. The PK should be able to improve with Sproat and Mclean returning to the line up. I don’t think the Power Play can be entirely chalked up to personnel however.

The Cyclones have had 230 man advantage opportunities, which leads the League, but have struggled scoring just 35 goals. The Power Play woes get compounded when you look at the Team’s regulation losses. The Cyclones currently have 14 regulation losses, 9 of which have been by 1 or 2 goals (the second goal being a late empty net goal). In those nine games the Cyclones Power Play has performed at a rather impotent clip, converting at just 12.3%. That’s just 8 goals in 65 chances. Imagine how different the standings might look had the Boys been able to convert and take at least a point out of a few of those games. That, however, will be another installment of CycWords.

So what gives?

Sure, the Cyclones lack a big shot from the point in the absence of Reid Cashman and Doug Krantz, but I don’t think that is entirely it. Scoring isn’t the responsibility of the point players; yes, it’s great when it happens, but at the point it’s all about holding the puck in the zone and making good puck decisions. After all it doesn’t matter how hard a shot it as long as it gets to the front of the net. Also, while the Cyclones roster lacks a player with truly creative puck skills to take over and dominate a Power Play, it is full of players that are skilled and are more than capable of creating out of the corner or off the half wall for themselves and their teammates.

The Cyclones point players do a good job with holding the zone and making good decisions and the forwards do an excellent job of finding seams to pass through. That is until the pressure comes. The Cyclones 5 on 4 struggles dealing with pressure against teams that skate well enough to take away space. The Boys do well getting the puck to the scoring areas against passive penalty kills and against teams that try to pressure but don’t skate well enough to do so consistently. When the pressure is on the Team struggles to get pucks out of corners or off of the half wall.  When the puck does get rotated to the point shots are taken hastily into the oppositions shin gaurds or the pressure is rotated along with the puck, both scenarios usually result in the the puck being cleared. Motherwell and O’Hanely seem to deal with the pressure fairly well and moving Ehgoetz to the blue line has helped but the goals still aren’t coming.

The answer as I stated in my last entry is not shooting at every opportunity. Sure, you won’t score on 100% of the shots you don’t take, but power plays are about patience and working for high percentage chances. There is no use in taking a power play shot from the point if there is no one around the front of the net screening the goalie or in position for a rebound. Additionally teams have been doing an excellent job of pressuring the points, taking away passing lanes and forcing the puck down the wall.

At any level of hockey a consistent power play involves 3 things, and really they are the same 3 things that successful 5 on 5 play is based on. First, quick, accurate puck movement. Secondly, player rotation and cycling to create mismatches, open space and odd man situations. And finally the ability to finish.

During 5 on 5 play as well as 5 on 4 play, the Cyclones manage the puck well with passing and cycling. Even when going against a high pressure PK the Boys look best when they cycle  almost as if They were playing even strength. It makes the opposition scramble and creates more open areas. However, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on the 5 on 3 Power Plays lately. The passing is out standing but it should be with the lack of any substantial movement of the players. If the players aren’t moving it makes life a bit easier for the penalty killers since they don’t have to move either. There has to be some sort of movement to open up shooting lanes or to create cross ice passing lanes for one timers. It can be as simple as the rotation of the puck side forward and point man, the rotation of the screen man with one of the other forwards down low, or rotating to more of an umbrella formation with a single point man at the center blue line with the other point man and one forward moving to the half wall. It doesn’t matter how they move really as long as there is some type of movement to force the penalty killers to move and open up their zone.

If there is one thing the Cyclones do succeed at it is generating shot scoring chances. I for one like the patience they show in generating high percentage chances with their Power Play; and they DO generate them; they just can’t seem to find the back of the net. I don’t think I’ve witnessed a team get as many unlucky bounces on the Power Play as this years Squad as rebounds bounce past them on the wrong side and goalies make unbelievable toe saves; it’s enough to make any team press and feel like the Hockey Gods are out to get them. Early on even I played it off as bad luck stating that at some point things would “click” and the goals would come but they haven’t, at least not with enough consistency. It’s one thing to go through a game and get unlucky bounces, but at this point, it can no longer be dismissed as chance.

Could things be turning around? Jimmy Kilpatrick now as 3 goals in 3 games; all 3 have been Power Play goals. Perhaps, he is the spark the Power Play has been searching for. Only time will tell. One thing is for certain, with the number of close games the Cyclones have been involved in so far this season, there is no reason the ‘Clones can’t run away with the Division and possibly provide the home fans with a few pulled pork sandwiches, if They can find the consistency from the Power Play the will no doubt be needed to make a deep playoff run.

-Mike-

The Cyclones bounced back from a lackluster performance against the Wheeling Nailers to defeat the the Kalamaoo K-wings 3-1. The win puts the Boys on top of the Division by one point and into second place in the conference; the K-wings do have 2 games in hand.

-Jimmy Kilpatrick, Chris Morehouse and Ian Mckenzie all notched their first goals as Cyclones in the victory. I’m glad to see Killer put one up after what has thus far been a season hampered by injury. I always like seeing players like Morehouse score. Labeled as an agitator, or pugilist, he’s not going to score a lot, but he works hard and goes to the “dirty” areas of the ice so when he’s able to light the lamp it adds a bit of a swagger to his game, which already get’s under opponents skin. It appeared to me that after the goal the K-wings were thrown from the game a bit more by Chris and spent more time chasing him than trying to score at times. Ian’s goal was the type of goal I expect to see from him. He made a strong move from the corner and just drove the net. Ian is a big kid and when he plays big he’s down right dangerous at this level.

-Welcome back Robert Mayer. The only goal the K-wings could muster was a Power Play goal on a shot from the point. The rest of the game he did just what Coach Weber asks; stop all of the shots he’s supposed to and a few of the ones he’s not.

-Chris Morehouse was an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick after being involved in one of the most energetic and entertaining fights I’ve seen in some time, and then going on to score the game winner.

-After several posts questioning Dwayne Zinger’s ability to play (his leadership, knowledge and mentoring capabilities were never under question), he has since gotten out of my dog house. While I still don’t think he’s a shut down type defenseman his play is justifies his spot in the the lineup. He has shown the ability to jump into the offensive play, although it still worries me that he’ll get caught behind the play should a turnover occur. His fight with Kalamazoo’s Jurynec was a good one. Jurynec stunned him early but Zinger rallied for the decision.

-The Cyclones have placed Kevin Roeder on 21 day IR where he joins Doug Krantz. I’m not sure what is wrong with Roeder but his presence is missed. At this point it looks like Krantz may be on the shelf for the season. It was said that he is waiting on some things to be sorted out before he can undergo surgery. It’s unfortunate, Doug was one of those kids I was looking forward to watching this season; he has a cannon of a shot which would come in handy on the Power Play right about now.

-The cupboards are starting to get bare. In the event of more injuries or or call-ups to anywhere the Cyclones will be left with a short bench. Dustin Sproat and Mike Mclean are currently on assignment with the Milwaukee Admirals, Ryan Del Monte has been on IR the past few weeks, and Mark Voakes returned to action for a game or two before returning to the IR list. Luckily Milwaukee has sent us Ian Mckenzie, but that leaves the Team with just 9 healthy forwards. Cyclone’s trainer Bob Case is a busy man these days, it’s no wonder he was selected as trainer for the 2010 ECHL All Star Game (sorry for leaving you off the last post Bob!)

-There doesn’t appear to be any help on the horizon from the Milwaukee side. It’s been reported that Mark Van Guilder has sustained a lower body injury and is questionable for this weekends games. Luckily the Admirals added Oren Eizenman so at least a call up shouldn’t be eminent. However, all the injuries mean the return of Sproat and/or Mclean is unlikely with out the call-up of Mckenzie, or having a few players regain some health. It looks like the All Star break is coming at a good time.

-The empty pantry has caused the Coach Weber to find some bodies which he did with the addition of Ryan Ford and Patrik Prokop. Ford, a 5’9″ 195lb forward, was signed out of Evansville of the AAHL. He played his Jr hockey in the OPJHL. Ryan has put up decent numbers, but take it for what’s it’s worth given the leagues he’s been playing in. Chuck has found diamonds in the rough before, perhaps he’s found another. Patrik Prokop was acquired in a trade with Utah with the Cyclones giving up the sometimes controversial “future considerations.” Prokop started the season with Bakersfield and has yet to log a point in 15 ECHL games. Patrik, a 6′ 187lb forward,  is a 1st year pro and played his Jr hockey in the QMJHL where he averaged less than a half point per game. Based on his numbers, I hope this was a cash deal. I can’t imagine giving up any of the unaffiliated players currently on the roster for this kid to complete the deal on the back end.

-It’s unfortunate the the AA Hockey market is so crowded, with three different leagues. Even with the addition of the 2 FNGs, the Cyclones still have just 11 healthy forwards an6 healthy defensemen. It’s too bad the ‘Clones aren’t able to re-acquire the likes of Jason Woll or Mark O’Leary who are both playing in the CHL and thus can’t be acquired unless released by their current squads.

-Not that anyone really cares, but where in the world is Carmen San Diego, I mean Michael Busto. The defenseman of questionable ability was acquired by Montreal in the off season as part of a trade. He was in training camp with the Cyclones and apparently did not impress the staff. He was then moved to the Dayton Gems of the IHL where he played in…no, more like skated around during 2 games.  He was then recalled (more like dismissed from the Gems) by Hamilton, where, if I have my information correct, he was put on IR and never saw the ice. I have know idea if he was actually injured. Now, Mr. Busto is calling Elmira his home as he has been assigned by Hamilton to the Jackals. Where will he end up next?

-Mike-