Archive for the ‘2011-2012 Regular Season’ Category

It’s time to put up or shut up for the Cincinnati Cyclones. The ‘Clones are currently 6-7-0-3 for 15pts, which puts them squarely at the bottom of the North Division, not to mention the Eastern Conference as a whole. Sure, the Boys have played the fewest games in the League, but even in a perfect world where they win the 10 games in hand, they still won’t have as many points as Division leader Chicago with 26 games played.

The remainder of December will see the Cyclones play 9 games, all against North Division opponents; facing Chicago twice, Toledo 3 times and Kalamazoo 4 times. Given the current record against the North Division it’s a scary stretch for the squad. The Cyclones have played well, often carrying the tempo of the game, but it hasn’t translated to wins and while the ‘Clones might be a better team than say Toledo, Chicago and perhaps even Kalamazoo, those teams hold a key advantage over the Cyclones right now. They believe they are going to win when the puck drops. The next 9 games gives the Boys a chance to turn that around and climb up the standings. In our eyes anything less than 6-3 over the next nine games has to be considered a disappointment. It’s time to put the all the excuses about being a young team and roster moves in the past and put 60 minute efforts together.

While the next 9 games aren’t going to put the Cyclones in the playoffs,  but they could make it very hard for the ‘Clones to battle for playoff position down the stretch.

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Defensive question marks…

The Cyclones have been doing a great job of keeping Their opponents shot totals down. However, as we’ve had a chance to watch more games we’ve come to the conclusion that is has less to do with the D-zone play as it does Their offensive zone game and forecheck. The Boys are doing an excellent job of keeping the puck deep in the opposition’s end of the ice and even when not in possession of the puck the forecheck has been clogging the neutral zone and creating turnovers to get the Boys back on the puck. It’s when the opposition gets offensive zone possession that things get scary; the Cyclones have a hard time regaining puck control and breaking out. Whenever the opposition makes their way into the Cyclones’ zone it usually ends up as a quality scoring chance.

Turning on the offense…

The offense has starting coming together but there are still some things we don’t like. The transition play is great, at least from the neutral zone forward, and the offensive zone sets are starting to mix the point shots  through traffic with working the puck from the corners to the front of the net but everything comes off the left side. If we had a $5 bill for every shot taken from the left faceoff circle we’d be very close to retiring. We’ve always like the “overload” system but the Cyclones but at some point the puck needs to get reversed. Reversing the puck from one side to the other makes the goalie move and oftentimes causes an offensive player to get lost by the defensive coverage.

Specialty slump…

Since out last post the special teams have slipped a bit. Both power play and penalty kill units are ranked middle of the pack. The power play has dropped to 19% and the penalty kill has dipped to 81%. Those are respectable but they aren’t going to win you a lot of games. In out last post we brought back Chuck Weber’s special teams formula and since that post the total has dropped to an even 100%, which as described last post, probably isn’t going to win very many games but probably shouldn’t lose too many either.

Koger gets his shot…

The Cyclones resident Hungarian got a call to the AHL where he’ll join the St. John’s Ice Caps. Daniel was a player we had earmarked as a game changer early on. It was just a matter of him getting used to the smaller North American rinks. He got off to a slow start but over the last few weeks he gave Cyclones’ fans a look at what he has to offer. He’s got good size and has proven he can play the more physical North American game. So far he’s logged one game with the Ice Caps with no points to show for it, but if he can play with similar form to what he had the last few games with the ‘Clones there’s no reason to think he won’t be there awhile.

Have we seen this before…

In 2007-2008 the Cyclones had a wee fellow by the name of David Desharnais. The year the Cyclones find themselves with a player of similar stature, Anthony Luciani. We’re not going to say that Anthony is the 2nd coming of the Wee Wonder, but we see some similarities in their games. Anthony has some solid puck skills, as we saw illustrated by his backhand, top shelf game winner the other night against Greenville. The question is if Anthony can develop the body control and vision to excel the way David did.

Calling in the Cavalry…

Over the past few weeks the Cyclones have had to deal with a very thing roster. We’ve seen Mike Liambas play defense, and perform well we might add, and well as numerous FNGs from the SPHL and FHL. While not being game breakers, Jeremy Klaver, Tyler Fletcher, Justin Barr, Berkley Scott and Kevin Swider performed suitably in their call ups. As the Cyclones head into this rough North Division stretch reinforcements from San Antonio in the form of Joe Devin, Garrett Wilson and, for the first time this season, Angelo Esposito. The three should provide some extra offensive punch over a stretch of games when goal scoring will be needed.

And then there were two…

After an what seemed like an eternity of waiting the Cyclones finally have 2 affiliated net minders which can be utilized. Chet Pickard has played well to start the season and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue but let’s face it, he was going to need some rest at some point. Enter Brian Foster. The fans pick as 2010-2011 MVP made his was to Cincinnati from San Antonio and got his first start last Saturday against Dean Stork’s Road Warriors. We’ll be honest, perhaps it was the travel, but Foster didn’t look sharp in the 6-5 victory. We’ll be keeping an eye on how Skalde utilizes the two net minders.

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The Season has been rolling along for about a month so we decided it’s about time for us to check in. When haven’t had to much to say to this point, mostly because the Team has only played 6 games and 5 of them were on the road. We attempted to watch several games via America One and actually got a decent feed for the Cyclones lone win from Trenton. We, of course, were also present for the home opener this past weekend. So as we roll into the 2nd month of the Season here’s our take on the 2011-2012 Cyclones so far.

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For the record…

…the Cyclones currently stand at 1-3-0-2 which gives them 6pts and puts them in 3 place in the North Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Since Their return in 2006 the Cyclones have never come out of the gate at full rotation but winning just 1 of 6 down right pathetic. We knew the the start of the Season was going to be tough but we still figured the this years Squad was capable of coming home to US Bank Arena with 2 or 3 wins under Their belts.

They’re offensive…

…or at least They should be. Through the 1st 6 games of the season the Cyclones have had no less than 11 forwards with AHL ties suit up and log ice time, yet the Team has lit the lamp just 16 times, the fewest in the League. Factor in that 8 of those goals came on the power play and that “goals for” total gets a little scarier. Sure, They’re averaging 2.66 goals per game, but with just 6 games play that number gets a little inflated by the 5 They put up in a losing effort against Kalamazoo. Yes, we’re quite aware that we like to preach defense 1st here at CycWords but with multiple AHL forwards in the lineup each night, anything less than a 3+ goals per game average can be considered anemic; even the 2010 Championship team, which was far from offense oriented, was able to average 3.26 goals per game.

If you can’t score a bunch of goals…

…you better keep the other team from scoring a bunch of goals. The Cyclones have conceded 19 goals in Their 6 games which is the 3rd fewest in the League. However, as an average it works out to 3.16 per game. This includes the 6-5 loss to Kalamazoo as well, but even if we throw out that game the averages are still a goal apart at 2.2 for and 3.2 against. In 4 starts Chet Pickard has played well as has Tyler Plante. Both have save percentages in the 90’s which should win games if the 5 players in front of them do their jobs. Overall, that’s not happening and this Team is nothing but average in Their own zone.

They are special…

…but not special enough. The Cyclones’ special team units are one bright spot to build on. The power play is converting at a 21.6% clip and the penalty kill stifles the opposition 84.6% of the time. The Cyclones have only racked up 104 penalty minutes to this point in the season which is the fewest in the League. A prodigal Cyclones head coach always aimed for a combined special teams percentage of 110 or higher. The thought being a total of 105 to 110 would keep you in games; 110 or higher and special teams could win you some games. The combined total for the Cyclones right now is 106.2% which is good and IS keeping them in games, but given the 5-on-5 mediocrity at both ends of the ice, it’s not enough. Even in Their 1 win the Team forced Chet Pickard to play a near perfect game for the whole 60 minutes despite 6 power play chances. Had the Cyclones converted even just one of those chances, that game gets a little easier.

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When you put it all together you get a team that is better than it’s record indicates but there are still questions that have to be answered. The Cyclones have had an ever changing roster so far this Season and while that might be responsible for a break down here and there, it’s not the reason the Cyclones stand at 1-3-0-2. In the ECHL rosters are a tumultuous thing and that’s where the coaching staff comes in. It’s the coaching staff’s responsibility to keep the revolving door of players on the same page from game to game and that starts with the team having a clear cut identity.

It’s not enough to say “we’re a hard working team.” You have to work hard at something. In the Chuck Weber era the identity was defense. Players coming to Cincinnati new this was a defense first team. If they didn’t play solid defensively they were going to find there ice time dwindle or perhaps even find themselves watching from the stands regardless of their offense prowess. Even the offensive power house team of 2007-2008 put defense first and had the 2nd lowest goals against total in the League. We aren’t saying the Team has to be a hardworking defensive minded team (although we wouldn’t mind it), but we are saying that They need to be SOMETHING and right now we aren’t seeing it. If they become known as the hardest forechecking team in the League, fine. If they commit to sending everyone forward offensively to win games in a scorefest, fine. Whatever it is is fine, but everyone needs to buy in and They can be half ass about it. Until the coaching staff can instill a cohesive identity as to how the Cincinnati Cyclones play the game they will continue to struggle.

On the bright side, the Season is still young, the Cyclones have only played 6 games. However, it’s never too soon to climb out of a hole. And while it’s true that Championships are won in the spring not the fall, the holes that get dug in the fall can turn into graves come springtime.

-Mike-

We posted an early look at the roster the other day and before we could get our “this roster is subject to change” entry we had to delete it and start again as the Cyclones received a few more players from above heading into opening night in Kalamazoo. The newest version of the roster can be found here.

The new additions, Chet Pickard, Anthony Luciani and Keith Seabrook, bring the roster up to the maximum possible of 23; goaltender Bryan Hince was released to make room for the new additions. The ECHL allows teams to carry 20 players on the active roster and use of the IR makes room for 3 additional places (multiple players can be but on 21 day IR but it’s uncommon unless the players are actually injured). Opening night will see one more player added to the 3 day IR with Evan Trupp and Matt Pierce already on the 21 day and 7 day IR respectively. It should be noted that Nathan Moon is still on Worcester’s (AHL) roster, should be be returned to the Cyclones at some point another player will have to be cut assuming the cupboards are full as they are now.

Personally, we happy to see roster maxed out. Chuck Weber utilized the IR very well during his time here, to keep players fresh and to keep the a healthy bit of competition for ice time between the players. The ECHL regular season is shorter than the NHL and AHL seasons, but at 72 games spanning about 6 months it’s still a grind. A maxed roster allows guys to get rotated to recharge and recover from the various dings that they may otherwise have to play through if a healthier player wasn’t available. Also, players tend to be less likely to take shifts off if there a few players in the stands hungry for ice time.

The roster is a little heavy on defensemen to start the season (12 forwards and 9 defensemen) which isn’t a bad thing. If push comes to shove it’s  typically easier to move a D-man up front than it is to ask a forward to move back to the blue line.

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There’s an elephant in the room so let’s talk about it. Chet Pickard will make up half of the goalie tandem along with Danny Taylor to start the season. Chet’s performance last season was quite the ride, in fact it could probably be the theme for a new roller coaster somewhere. Despite being remembered by most fans for the lows and inconsistent play there were also games of brilliance. The question this season this season will be whether Chet can keep his game elevated to a high level consistently. The reports out of Nashville’s training camp is that Chet worked incredibly hard this summer, is in great shape and has a new outlook. It will be interesting to see if that changes now that he’s been assigned to the Cyclones. We’re hoping to see the Chet play with a bit of swagger this season and show us why he doesn’t belong in the ECHL.

The goaltending situation on the Florida/San Antonio side of things is still up in the air. Two of their net minders (Clemmensen and Plante) are on the shelf. The Rampage are giving Manny Legace a look and Brian Foster is playing quite well. Our guess is the Cyclones probably won’t see a goalie from that side of things for some time. When or if they send someone our way it will be interesting to see what Skalde decides to do with Danny Taylor.

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The two other new additions should be great additions. Keith Seabrook should be a solid addition to the blue line. The 2nd round pick of the Washington Capitals has never been a plus player as a professional but he’s also never been assigned to AA hockey before. A player who was a 2nd round pick and has never played below the AHL should be able to step in and make an impact. His addition will make Skalde’s decision for the defensive starting 6 a bit more challenging.

Anthony Luciani will be playing his 1st full year as a professional. He was an offensive force to be reckoned with as a Junior in the OHL. His final season he put up 78 points and was an impressive +26. In a short post stint last season with Rochester he posted 2 goals and 1 assist in 3 games played for Chuck Weber’s Americans. Those aren’t quite David Desharnais numbers but he should provide some extra offensive punch to a roster that already has a lot of offensive potential.

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The 1st test for Sklade’s new Cyclones will be a tough one as the head to Kalamazoo to open the season. The Wings return many of the same players that took them to the Kelly Cup final this past spring. We won’t bet the season on the result of one game, but it should give a good idea if this Squad can live up to it’s potential.

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As this was about to be posted the Cyclones announced the addition of Dan Eves to the 7 day IR and Chris Reed to the 3 day IR. Matt Pierce was transferred from the 7 day to the 21 day IR. That places 4 players on IR which brings the Cyclones active roster down to 19 heading into the weekend.

-Mike-

2011-2012 Roster

Posted: 2011/10/11 by Mike in 2011-2012 Regular Season
Tags: ,
Forwards (11) No Birthdate Birthplace Shoots Height Weight 2010-11 Team
Mathieu Aubin 9 09/18/86 Sorel, QC Right 6’3” 210 ECHL – Cincinnati
Joe Devin 28 10/05/87 Scituate, MA Right 6’1” 186 NCAA – Cornell
Dan Eves 16 04/05/86 Lake Orion, MI Left 6’2” 210 ECHL- Cincinnati/South Carolina
Daniel Koger 26 11/10/89 Szekesfehervar, Hun Right 6’2” 195 CHL – Laredo
Mike Liambas 17 02/16/89 Woodbridge, ON Left 5’9” 204 CWUAA – U of BC/ ECHL – Cincinnati
Matt McIlvane 15 11/02/85 Naperville, IL Right 6′ 207 CHL – Bloomington/ AHL – Peoria
Matt Pierce 23 05/05/85 Amprior, ON Left 5’11” 188 ECHL – Cincinnati
Wacey Rabbit 44 11/18/86 Lethbridge, AB Left 5’8” 185 Austria – Zagreb
Neil Trimm 19 02/18/83 Westmeath, ON Right 6’2” 200 CHL – Laredo
Evan Trupp 18 10/22/87 Anchorage, AK Left 5’10” 155 NCAA – North Dakota
Justin Vaive 24 07/08/89 Buffalo, NY Left 6’6” 225 NCAA – Miami
Defense (8) No Birthdate Birthplace Shoots Height Weight 2010-11 Team
Ryan Annesley 12 02/02/86 Ajax, ON Left 5’10” 185 NCAA – Niagra
Ryan Blair 3 05/01/86 Ashburn, VA Left 6’4” 210 NCAA – Umass-Lowell
Adam Comrie 25 07/31/91 Asburn, VA Left 6’4” 215 ECHL – Cincinnati/ AHL – Rochester
Maury Edwards 6 03/16/87 Rocky Rapids, AB Right 5’11” 190 NCAA – Umass-Lowell
Dave Leaderer 4 07/31/86 Rochester, NY Left 5’11” 190 ECHL – Trenton
Brian O’Hanley 5 12/18/84 Quincy, MA Left 5’11” 191 ECHL – Cincinnati/ AHL – Rochester/Portland
Chris Reed 27 08/03/87 Solon, OH Right 6’1” 195 NCAA – Ohio State University
Garrett Suter 20 06/09/87 Madison, WI Right 6’1” 185 ECHL – Cincinnati
Goaltenders (2) No Birthdate Birthplace Catches Height Weight 2010-11 Team
Danny Taylor 31 04/28/86 Plymouth, ENG Left 6’1” 177 DEL – Hamburg
Bryan Hince 30 04/09/86 Kapuskasing, ON Left 6′ 170 SPHL – Knoxville