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-

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