Archive for March, 2011

If you didn’t have the chance to watch or listen, let us tell you it was quite the game. You can read all the details here. The Cyclones rode rookie Cory Conacher all the way to the win, but the play of the game was made by referee Curtis Marouelli.

Late in the game and down by a goal head Fisherman Nick Vitucci pulled his goal with over 2 minutes to play. It lead to a scrum in the low slot with the puck finding the back of the net. Marouelli instantly held both hands in the air indicating the play had been blown dead. The replay from AmericaOne clearly showed the puck loose in front and going into the net. Fortunately for the Cyclones, the replay also clearly showed Marouelli bringing his whistle up with the intent to blow the play dead before the puck crossed the goal line. The key phrase here is “the intent to blow the whistle.” While players are always taught to play to the whistle, the rule book says the play ends when the referee decides to blow the whistle, not when it actually blows. It was the one break the Cyclones would get from the referee who whistled the Boys for 6 minor penalties (several of which were questionable calls to say the least) throughout the game compared to Toledo’s two. It was a rough game for the ref who spent most of the afternoon out of position and chasing the play. Ironically, if Marouelli had been out of position on the play the goal probably would have been good. Luckily for the ‘Clones, Marouelli was in position behind, and slightly to the right of Foster’s net and when he lost sight of the puck he blew the whistle as he’s supposed to.

It’s tough call to lose on if you’re a Fish fan but ultimately it was by the book. And when the referee gives you 6 chances to capitalize on the man advantage and you don’t, it you little to complain about.

***

Looking forward here’s what the standings look like:

The Cyclones now find themselves legitimately in the 8th and final playoff position and more or less control their own destiny. If the Boys can earn 3 points in their final 2 games with Kalamazoo They’re in regardless of what Toledo does in their final 3 games. All the pressure is on the Fish at this point.

The magic numbers are:

Greenville – Clinched 3/19

Reading – Clinched 3/19

Kalamazoo – Clinched 3/20

Florida – Clinched 3/27 with Cyclones’ win over Toledo

Wheeling – Clinched 3/27 with Cyclones’ win over Toledo

South Carolina – Clinched 3/27 with Cyclones’ win over Toledo and OT loss to Greenville

Elmira – 3

Cincinnati – 3

The tragic:

Trenton – Eliminated 3/20, We like it better when you were the Titans anyhow.

Gwinnett – Eliminated by the Cyclones’ win and their loss to reading. It was a good fight but Caesar gave them a “thumbs down”

Toledo – 3

It a 3 horse race for the final 2 playoff spots and Toledo is the long shot right now. The crazy part is, outside of the top 3 places the rest of the Eastern Conference is separated by just 2 points. It’s still possible for the Cyclones to finish as high as 4th in the Conference believe it or not.

Until the next big game which is Wednesday morning….

-Mike-

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Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought to yourself, “Wow, did that really just happen?” Well that’s what we did this morning after the watching the Cyclones take a 7-0 beating from the Toledo Walleye. It was a tail of 2 teams, one which looked like it wanted to continue playing into late April while the other was just content to call it season. There really isn’t much to talk about as it was all pretty much awful. The defense was porous, the offense anemic and very few showings of emotion. It wasn’t what you’d expect from any team battling for a playoff position, let alone from a team wearing a crest that has won 2 Championships in 3 years. Despite the lackluster performance from the Boys, we will give a half star to Dustin Sproat who apologized via Twitter to those that were in attendance.

That’s enough of the doom and gloom of yesterday, on to today’s tilt. It wasn’t that long ago that we where talking about how the game down in Gwinnett was the biggest of the season. Well, when you’re battling for the last playoff spot and you’ve had trouble stringing wins together for much of the season, the games tend to get more and more important this time of year and today’s game is by far the biggest game on the schedule right now, at least until the next one.

Here’s how it breaks down, Toledo trails the Cyclones by 2 points but has a game in hand. If the Fish and Cyclones finish the season tied on points and the Fish have more wins in regulation/OT (shoot out wins don’t count), which is currently the case, then the Fish will be playing extra hockey while the Cylones make arrangements to play Saturday night softball. So a regulation win by the Cyclones today, will just about put Their post season destiny back into their own hands since a single win against Kalamazoo in the last 2 games will force the Fish to win all 3 of their remaining games (2 at Wheeling and Elmira at home) in order to get in. A loss however, will force the ‘Clones to win Their remaining 2 games with Kalamazoo AND get some help from of a couple of Toledo loses. If the Fish win today all they will have to do is match the Cyclones regulation win total and they’re in. Again, this is not a “win and we’re in, lose and we’re out” scenario, but life becomes much more difficult for the team that loses today. There is a chance the Cyclones will be scoreboard watching Saturday night to learn their fate.

***

We haven’t updated the magic/tragic numbers in a while so here they are. Remember, Toledo is technically in 8th place based on possible points and tire breakers so the Cyclones are back to the tragic list despite the what the standings say.

The Magic:

Greenville – Clinched 3/19

Reading – Clinched 3/19

Kalamazoo – Clinched 3/20

Florida – 2

Wheeling – 2

South Carolina – 3

Elmira – 5

Toledo – 6

The Tragic:

Trenton – Dead in the water, eliminated 3/20

Gwinnett – 4

Cincinnati – 6

-Mike-

The Cyclones,who have played well against the Southern Division all season, kept things rolling on the 1st leg of Their swing down South. The Boys won all 3 games against the South Carolina Stingrays. Cail MacLean’s squad was a bit depleted but that didn’t stop them from putting a fight in game 3 of the series. If not for some late game heroics from Brock Sheahan to tie the score with the goalie pulled and force OT, the Boys could have found Themselves losing ground to the field in the playoff race. When overtime didn’t decide anything, it was on to a shootout where Mathieu Aubin netted the game winner in round 5. Cyclones net minder Brian Foster didn’t play his best game of the season but he came up big when the game was on the line stopping all 5 South Carolina attempts.

***

The sweep against South Carolina allowed the ‘Clones to keep pace with the playoff pack and sets up a huge game against Gwinnett. Currently the Gladiators and Cyclones are tied with 65 points. Despite what the article on the ECHL’s website reports, according to rule changes for the approved over the summer, the Gladiators hold the first tie break with ‘Clones with a greater number of regulation/OT wins. While Tuesday’s match up with Gwinnett won’t put the Cyclones in the playoffs, moving ahead of the Gladiator’s on points will make the battle a bit easier. A loss on the other hand won’t put the ‘Clones out, but it will make capturing a playoff position much more difficult. In our eyes, Tuesday’s game is a MUST win for the Cyclones.

***

If you’re keeping track at home, here are the magic numbers:

Reading Royals – 5

Greenville Road Warriors – 6

Kalamazoo Wings – 11

South Carolina Stingrays – 15

Florida Everblades – 18

Elmira Jackals – 19

Wheeling Nailers – 19

Gwinnett Gladiators – 21

Cincinnati Cyclones – 21

***

Looking at the way things are shaping up, if South Carolina doesn’t get some help from above with their roster, there is a good chance Florida could overtake them.

Wheeling has received some help in the form or Patrick Killeen. If Killeen and Delmas can play the way they’re capable, then the Nailers might just hang on. We wouldn’t expect them to do much in the post season if they do however.

-Mike-

Tragically Unhip

Posted: 2011/03/08 by Mike in Uncategorized

The Cyclones didn’t do themselves any favors this weekend and after closing out the month of February strong, the Boys find themselves sitting back at .500 for the year and on the outside looking in on the playoffs once again. To make matters worse, Toledo has a game in hand on the Cyclones, so despite trailing the Cyclones by a point, Toledo’s maximum possible point total is 1 point higher than the ‘Clones.

If you missed out on the weekends games you didn’t really miss much. On Friday night the Cyclones dropped the decision in the season finale against the Wheeling Nailers. The game was lackluster for the most part, that is until the dust up that involved Carl Hudson having a go with Nailer’s net minder Peter Delmas. The Cyclones scored late to make a game of it but couldn’t get the equalizer. On Saturday, the ‘Clones defensive woes were highlighted throughout the evening. The Fish took an early 2 goal lead and despite being able to battle back to tie the game moving into the 3rd, the Cyclones’ defense was allowing Toledo’s forwards too much time and pace in dangerous scoring areas. The Fish took the lead back early in the 3rd and never looked back. The porous defense was rivaled by a lackluster offense that only mustered 1 shot on goal during a 3rd period 5 on 3 power play. The only positive not from the game was the dominance the Cyclones had during the 2nd period. The ‘Clones controlled the puck and play for the majority of the period. Unfortunately they came away with little to show for it. Sunday’s trip to Kalamazoo started the same way with the Cyclones giving up the 1st goal but managing to battle back. The wheels came off the bus again in the 3rd period and the Wings took the match going away.

As the Cyclones head south for a 7 game road trip that may not make the season, but could certainly break it, let’s take a look at the standings and where things stand.

The magic numbers (points needed to reach 87, 1 point more than Toledo, yes, Toledo can potentially earn.) for those above the bar are the following:

Reading – 10

Greenville – 10

Kalamazoo – 17

South Carolina – 17

Florida – 21

Wheeling – 22

Gwinnett – 24

Elmira – 26

The tragic numbers (points away from being eliminated) are:

Trenton – 12

Cincinnati – 25

Toledo – 26

***

The Cyclones really need 10 points out of this trip to really have a chance to make a run in the last 6 games. A record like 4-3 would be workable as long as the Boys beat Gwinnett in regulation. Even a 5-2 record on the trip could close the door if one of the loses is against Gwinnett.

***

If you feel like scoreboard watching, here are the games that have impact on the Cyclones destiny:

3/8 – Elmira @ South Carolina

3/9 – Toledo @ Kalamazoo

3/11 – Gwinnett @ Elmira (Can’t let this one go to OT), Toledo @ Trenton, Kalamazoo @ Wheeling

3/12 – Gwinnett @ Elmira, Wheeling @ Kalamazoo, Toledo @ Reading

3/13 – Wheeling @ Kalamazoo, Toledo @ Reading, Elmira @ Trenton

***

We’ll be back with more as soon a we digest the AHL Clear Day Rosters and some the the other recent signings by the Cyclones.

-Mike-

 

There is less than a month left in the regular season and the Eastern Conference Playoff picture is starting to shape up. There is still a lot to be determined so we thought we’d get out our prognosticating hats and make some Eastern Conference Playoff predictions. As of 3/4/11 the standings look like this:

 

Reading Royals – The Royals are in. The question will be it they can hang onto the top seed in the Conference. They will no doubt win the Atlantic Division which will assure them of a top 3 seeding. The Challenge for the top honours will come from Dean Stork’s Greenville squad.

Greenville Road Warriors – The Road Warriors have been one of the most consistent teams all season and will make the post season. Despite their lackluster performance for Dean Stork’s return to USBA, they will be the team to beat come playoff time. Greenville plays the right kind of game when it comes to play off hockey; defensively sound with solid goaltending.

Kalamazoo Wings – The Wings have been on a tear lately. They’re probably the hottest team in the Conference right now. They will most likely win the North Division and the 3rd playoff seed. The question that will determine the Wings success will be goaltending. Ryan Nie should be back stopping the Wings in the playoffs. We’re thinking their current use of Riley Gill is simply to get Nie some rest since he’s carried the load for the Wings all season. The issue with Nie is in his head. If the Wings can get him a lead, he gets confident and can play lights out. However, if the opposition can get to him early, the game can get out of hand before they realize it. The Wings play a tight checking game in both zones and have enough skill to take advantage of the opportunities they get.

South Carolina Stingrays – Cail MacLean’s team is in and could still possible contend for the South Division Title. The ‘Rays will have their work cut out for them if they want to catch the Road Warriors but once in the playoffs everyone starts from scratch with the same goal, 15 wins. The ‘Rays have a head coach in MacLean, who as an assistant to Jared Bednar, hoisted the Kelly Cup in 2009. Should it happen, a potential meeting between the Stingrays and the Road Warriors would be one to watch.

Florida Everblades – The ‘Blades fast start should have been enough to get them in. They’ve been struggling as of late due to lack of goaltending. They play a run and gun style of game which can put up goals in bunches but from what we’ve observed in their game, doesn’t yield much in the way in puck possession. In fact, in the games we’ve watched, whether it be in person of on AmericaOne, Florida doesn’t seem to interested in playing 5 on 5 possession type hockey, regardless of whether is offensively or defensively. It’s a game that’s fun to watch but puts a lot pressure on the net minders. We can’t see the ‘Blades sticking around too long if they don’t get the services of Goepfert or Janus back, especially since as the probable 5th seed they will get a 1st round match up with either South Carolina or Greenville.

***

The top 5 seeds are pretty safe. There could be a little shuffling to happen but the real discussion will take place over the 6th, 7th and 8th slots.

Wheeling Nailers – The Wheeling Nailers are in a complete free fall since losing the majority of the team to AHL call up. The Nailers’ success this season has been a direct result of the players assigned to them by their affiliates and now due to injuries throughout the food chain, they find themselves with a line up depleted of skilled players and despite their best efforts have gone winless in their last 10 games. The future doesn’t look bright for the Nailers either. There are 3 players on IR for the Pens that the Wilkesbarre/Scranton Baby Pens were hoping to have on their Clear Day rosters, unfortunately there is no loop hole, if a player is on a NHL roster at the trade deadline he is not eligible to be on the Clear Day Roster and therefore not eligible to play the reainder of the AHL season, including the Calder Cup Playoff. That all translates to 3 more players Wheeling won’t be getting back as well. In fact, the Nailers were lucky to get Schnell and Haddad back. Taking a look at the Nailers’ remaining schedule, we feel their going to have a hard time hanging on. If they do, it will be for 8th.

Elmira Jackals – The Jackals are a bit of a surprise right now. They’ve gone from being a struggling team to being on a roll; all since firing Malcolm Cameron. Elmira currently holds the tiebreaker with Cincinnati having one more win than the ‘Clones. The question for Elmira will be if they can keep up the current run or if their recent success is just a boost from the coaching change.

Cincinnati Cyclones – We haven’t always agreed with coach Skalde’s philosophies here on CycWords but one thing is clear, he’s going to do what he feels is best to get the Team playing the way he wants. This season that has meant changing the roster. Those decisions haven’t always been popular with fans but there is no doubt the team is better now than they were at the beginning. There are still some questions remaining, especially around the defensive core and goaltending but overall Skalde and Co have done enough to get in provided they keep it going.

Gwinnett Gladiators – The Gladiators are on the outside looking in right now. They will have to overtake both Cincinnati and Toledo to get in. Even with a game left against the Cyclones, the 2 extra games played by the Gladiators will probably haunt. The Gladiators best chance lies in going on a run over their last 6-8 games and get help from Toledo in the form of wins over the Cyclones.

Toledo Walleye – Of the teams on the outside, Toledo probably has the best chance of sneaking in. They have 3 games left with Wheeling which could prove to be pivotal for the 8th spot, not to mention the 3 games remaining against the Cyclones. It’s been a common theme in this post, but Toledo’s success will be tied into their goaltending. The Fish have struggled defensively all year allowing the 2nd most goals in the Conference. If they don’t tighten up in their own zone it will be an early tee time.

Trenton Devils – We just checked in with the country club and their tee times are already booked. Let’s face it, while not mathematically eliminated, the Devils have been awful all season and there’s no reason to think that is going to change.

***

Back in January we guessed it would take roughly 75 points to get in. It still looks like that is going to be the number. That being said here’s our guess at the final standing:

  1. Reading Royals
  2. Greenville Road Warriors
  3. Kalamazoo Wings
  4. South Carolina Sting Rays
  5. Florida Everblades
  6. Elmira Jackals
  7. Cincinnati Cyclones
  8. Wheeling Nailers

There could be some shuffling in the top 5 but we think they’re pretty well set. The question is going to be Wheeling’s free fall; if Killeen and Delmas can stay healthy they should be able to hang on. However, even if they do to hang onto 8th, they would get a 1st round match up with Reading which will not likely end well for them. There is a chance the ‘Clones could overtake Elmira for the 5th spot but given that it sets up a 1st round date with Kalamazoo, we would rather them stick in 7th.

The top the 3 teams get to select the 1st round format which will be best of 5, they can choose between hosting games 1 and 2 or games 3-5. We guess that unless there are other issues (building usage etc) teams will have learned from last season and start on the road.

In the Quarter final match ups we’ve got…

Reading over Wheeling 3-1 – Killeen will be able to steal a game but not much more.

Greenville over Cincinnati 3-2 – We really hope the Boys can carry the success they’ve had against the South Division into the playoffs, but we can’t see the Boys pulling off an upset. Especially  Dean Stork has his full roster back, Greenville is just scary if that’s the case.

Kalamazoo over Elmira 3-1 – Kalamazoo is playing their best hockey of the year right now and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue. We doubt the Jackals ability to keep their current momentum going.

South Carolina over Florida 3-1 – South Carolina is the real dark house and Florida’s play is too one dimensional. The ‘Rays should handle the ‘Blades without too much of and issue.

In the Semifinals…

South Carolina beats Reading 4-2 – Reading will put up a fight but Cail MacLean’s defense will get the job done.

Greenville beats Kalamazoo 4-2 – Despite how well they’re playing now, we can’t see the Wings upsetting Greenville. The Road Warriors are the team to beat.

That will set up South Carolina and Greenville in the Conference Finals. We’re going to give to Greenville 4-3. That will send Dean Stork to the Kelly Cup Final where he’ll probably face either Las Vegas or Alaska. If it’s Las Vegas, anyone want to go?

-Mike-

Scoreboard Watching

Posted: 2011/03/05 by Mike in 2010-2011 Regular Season

In Friday night ECHL action, the Cyclones got some help from Kalamazoo. The Wings battled back to take a 4-3 regulation win over the Toledo Storm. Unfortunately the Cyclones were unable to help their own cause and dropped the decision with the Wheeling Nailers. The magic number now stands at 28 for the Cyclones.

Heading into tonights action, there will again be 4 points on the line. The Boys no doubt need to rebound and take 2 points from Toledo but the Fish’s loss to Kalamazoo last night makes Gwinnett the team to watch. The Gladiators will take on Trenton tonight at 7:05pm. Let’s hope the Devils feel up to the role of playing spoiler and can hand Gwinnett a regulation loss.

If you’re keeping score at home, last nights win over Reading has put the Cyclones’ magic number to 30. Unfortunately Reading decided not to do the Boys any favors and lost 4-1 to Toledo tonight.

Looking at the weekends games, the Cyclones will need to take advantage of a depleted Wheeling squad and keep it rolling when Toledo comes to town on Saturday. If you don’t mind scoreboard watching, with any luck the juggernaut that is the Kalamazoo Wings will do some damage when they visit Toledo on Friday.

In other new…

– The Cyclones have released Chase Watson. Watson was one of the first mid season acquisitions Skalde made. He’s seen limited ice time in the last few games and was inactive for last weekends tilt @ Kalamazoo. We not sure what he did to get put in Skalde’s doghouse but it was obviously enough to earn a bus ticket home.

The Cyclones have added another defenseman to the mix by signing Garrett Suter. Hopefully Suter can be more than just a famous name when he skates with the Club tomorrow evening.