Archive for February, 2010

After the recent 5-1 win over the Johnstown Chiefs I started wondering, “what is it about February?” With the exception of 06-07, the Cyclones have been stellar in the Month.  In 07-08, the Boys went 13-0 before finally dropping a game to Stockton (they won their lost 4 games in January that year to post a League best 17 game win streak).  Last Season the Fresno Three began to find their rhythm which helped the Squad post an 8-5  record which helped to jump-start Their run at the North Division Title. The season the Team finds them on a  game win streak to start the month and can finish the month no worse than 7-6.  I’m not sure what it is, but it seems that Chuck’s teams really start to roll in the second half of the season.

Some other notes and observations…

– The Cyclones (34-17-0-1 69pts) sit on top of the North Division, are in 2nd place in the Conference, and are positioning Themselves for a possible run at the Brabham Cup. According to Hammer’s weekly notes, the Cyclones have a “magic number” of 28 to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

– The NHL is in the midst of the Olympic break and the trickle down has begun. The Hamilton Bulldogs have sent down Maxime Lacroix and the Milwaukee Admirals have sent down both Jason Jozsa and Ian McKenzie. The Team is playing well right now so Chuck will have some tough decisions to make. In order to meet roster requirements someone will have to be put on short-term IR and according to the ECHL transactions for 2/16/10 Brett Robinson has drawn the short straw. Regardless of whether or not he has a substantial injury, after 52 games every player has some bumps and bruises to deal with, so hopefully a little rest will re-energize Robo for the stretch run. Defensively I think the choices are even harder. The Boys have been playing well together right now; limiting chances and getting involved in the scoring. If there is a weak spot it would be either Marchesi or Prokop but would inserting Josza for one of them be an upgrade to the line up? I’m not so sure it would be right now.

– Early in the season the big question was how would the Cyclones’ two young goalies develop. After a shaky start it appears they are settling in. Both Smith and Mayer rank in the top 5 for GAA. The tandem has accounted for 4 shutouts on the season (2 a piece). The Team has been lucky this season in that neither goalie has had to carry the load for an extended period as Cedrick Desjardins did down the stretch in 06-07. If that remains to be the case it will be nice to go into the playoffs with 2 relatively fresh goalies. It should be noted that the Canadiens would probably like to move either Cary Price or Jaroslov Halak this season and that could throw a wrench into Chuck’s goalie rotation if the deal that Montreal makes does not include another goalie.

– It’s great having Mark Voakes back in the line up. He’s got a lot of skill and when you look at his numbers it’s hard not to ask where he’d be had he not been hurt most of the year. In the 15 games he’s played he’s put up 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points. His scoring presence has really opened the ice up for the rest of the team.

– A quick look just about any Cyclones’ score sheet or a trip to the ECHL stat page and the thing that jumps out, at least to me, is how balanced the scoring on this years Squad is. The Team might lack the pure individual skill of the 07-08 team, but it makes up for it in team play. There does seem to be some go to guys, but overall it seems that the names on the score line are always changing. It’s been the case for most of the year so there is no reason to think it won’t continue. It makes the Team very hard to match up against defensively.

– When the Cyclones announced the return of Scott Reynolds, I figured him to hit 50pts. He currently sits at 46pts, I’m thinking he’ll exceed my expectations. It’s great to see too. Scott gets recognized as such a great defensive forward that his offensive ability gets overlooked. This year he’s shown his ability to play a complete game. I wish he’d get the chance to play at the next level.

Congratulations to Dustin Sproat, who recorded his first professional Hat Trick in a 6-2 smack down of the Johnstown Chiefs. Dustin came into training camp with some extra jump in his game and he’s kept it going as the season has progressed. As a side note, the Cyclones will be hosting Their second annual talent show with the proceeds going to Dustin’s foundation Hockey Players for Kids.

– Jason Jozsa has played 10 games with the Admirals so he will be playoff eligible for the Cyclones.

– It won’t be too much longer and we might get to see a few new faces as College hockey winds down. It seems that every year we see a few guys that come out to play on spring break of after their season ends, or as I like to call it “The Billy Irish-Baker Plan.” I mention this simply because Mercyhurst has 7 Seniors this season.

-Mike-

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As we head into another busy week for the Cyclones here are a couple bits of information I learned at the Coach’s Show last night.

– Don’t get me wrong, I liked Justin Johnson last season, but I don’t think he compares to Hans Benson. Benson was a guest at the Coach’s Show and just after a few minutes of listening to him, it become apparent that he is the consummate teammate. I liked Justin on the ice, but there were times that it seemed that Justin was more about him than the team. Benson, on the other hand, when asked about his offensive production, which is better than any any of his previous seasons, he didn’t say more than a few words before thanking Chuck for giving him a chance to actually play hockey. He also spoke about how tight knit the team is. When asked about fighting he responded that while it’s a big part of his game to stick up for his teammates he gave a props to Chris Morehouse, who “brings it every night,” as well as Dustin Sproat and Brett Motherwell. Sometimes you hear players talk in a similar manner but you can tell it’s lipservce, but with Benson it seems truly sincere. I guess you had to be there; those that were know what I’m talking about.

– As has been reported, the Cyclones have officially completed the trade with Gwinnett, in return for Mike Mclean the Cyclones have received defenseman Scott Marchesi. Marchesi is a second year player who was solid enough to receive an emergency call up to the AHL last season. His numbers are decent for a d-man. He is -7 on the season, but on a team whose best active player is +2, that isn’t bad at all. Scott will be a welcome addition to the Team’s depleted D-core.

– Speaking of that depleted D-core, here is where it stands. The beaten and battered are Kevin Roeder, Doug Krantz and Dwayne Zinger. Jason Jozsa and Reid Cashman are on assignment in Milwaukee. The leaves the Team with Brett Motherwell, Brock Sheahan, Jamie Coghlan, Brian O’Hanely, Pratrik Prokop and Scott Marchesi. As far as the injuries go, Roeder is expected to be out until sometime in March, Krantz finally had surgery and will miss the next 6 to 8 weeks and Zinger, also underwent surgery and will miss the next 8 to 12 weeks. Cashman has played well enough in Milwaukee to earn a regular spot in the Admirals line up so I wouldn’t expect him back any time soon. Jason Jozsa did get to play over the weekend but for the most part has been McElroy’d as the Admirals 7th defenseman. According to Chuck, due to one of the Admirals’ D-men going to the Olympics for Germany, Jozsa will most likely remain in Milwaukee through the Olympics. The upside is the potential that Jason could pick up the 3 more games needed to make him playoff eligible for the Cyclones.

– Dwayne Zinger underwent surgery for an injury that has effected his play since sometime in November. I have loads of respect for guys that play through injuries so this is the time that I offer my apologies to Dwayne for being so critical and throwing him under the bus. Sorry Dwayne, I wish you a speedy recovery. Your knowledge and leadership is no doubt important and valued in the locker room. I hope this is not season ending and you can come back healthy and show us what you’re really capable of. Thank you for your efforts and again, sorry for all of my criticism.

– I asked Chuck about the status of Adam Henrich and he confirmed what has been reported on eliteprospects.com. Adam received and excepted an offer to play in Germany’s Elite League for the Hamburg Freezers. The League has many former NHLers and could be a solid resume builder for Adam, who was a 2nd round NHL draft pick but has struggled to stick at the AHL level.  According to Chuck, Adam received a pretty substantial contract. Henrich was suspended by the Team in December when he left the Squad to return home to deal with some personal issues. Chuck could have blocked Adam from the move, but instead allowed him to take the deal. It’s just another reason why players like to play for Chuck; he won’t stand in a players way as they try to advance their careers or do what is needed to support their families. I wish it had worked out differently here in Cincinnati for Adam, he’s a talented player and I wish him the best in Germany.

– When the Cyclones head to Kalamazoo this Friday the K-wings will be without the services for Daryl Bootland. Daryl was was suspended by the team and has hopped the pond to play for Austria’s Vienna Capitals.

-Mike-

I’m not going to spend too much time on the trip to Kalamazoo which resulted in a 6-3 loss, although I will go as far as to say that even though the result was the same, the Boys played better than they did on their previous trip to Kalamazoo. A week ago the Guys looked lethargic, on this trip the Team looked to have the will and desire to win but just didn’t have the legs after 6 games in 9 days.

Here are a few observations, new and notes that hit me over the weekend:

– The stretch of 6 games in 9 days isn’t much different than what a team might see in the playoffs, so in that regard it’s a good test to show the rookies what a playoff series might feel like. However, in the playoffs both teams are subject to the same schedule.

– The ECHL hasn’t done the Cyclones favors with the schedule. The January schedule had the home/road or road/home turnarounds of at least 5 hours. The most recent was the last trip to Kalamazoo at the end of that 6 in 9 stretch. While the Boys were playing all week the K-wings had several days off. This week the Guys will complete a 3 in 3 with a trip to Kalamazoo where the K-wings will have yet again been resting up for several days.

– The Cyclones went with a short bench on Saturday night. On Friday Chuck went with 11 forwards and 5 defensemen; Mark Voakes returned to the line up and Dwayne Zinger was absent. On Saturday night the Cyclones skated with 10 forwards and 5 defensemen due to the call up of Ian Mckenzie. The short bench definitely didn’t help the Cyclones that night and it raises the a question as to the health of Dwayne Zinger, who did play on Thursday night.

– If Zinger is injured and is going to be out for any length of time, it leaves an already depleted D-core in a tough spot. Both Kevin Roeder and Doug Krantz remain on long term IR and Jason Jozsa is on assignment in Milwaukee which leaves the Team with 6 defensemen, including Zinger. Luckily, the return of Voakes allows either Scott Reynolds or Barret Ehgoetz to drop to the blueline if needed. Depending on the status of Roeder, Krantz and Zinger, I would imagine Chuck will be looking to acquire a D-man from somewhere.

There was a very nice article on Cincinnati.com about Jeremy Smith and Robert Mayer. Be sure to check it out and let Tom Ramstetter know we appreciate the coverage.

– I’ll be heading to the Coach’s Show tonight. Hopefully I’ll get some insight to the defensive situation and the status of Adam Henrich.

-Mike-