Posts Tagged ‘Chet Pickard’

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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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-

Yes, it’s about time for us to take a close look at the Cyclones playoff chances. Granted, there are still 26 games for the Cyclones to play and if They can keep it close there is a good chance they can be in control of Their own destiny over Their last 6 games which will be against Kalamazoo and Toledo; two of the teams They will be battling for a playoff slot down the stretch. That being said, it will be an uphill battle for the Cyclones.

The Cyclones sit in the 8th and final playoff position. However, a quick look at the numbers show that They are really on the outside looking in right now. Based on winning percentage the Cyclones sit in 9th position.

The Cyclones have struggled to find the consistency to keep them above .500 all season. If that continues the Cyclones will finish with around 72 points on the year and will be hitting the links early. The Kalamazoo Wings are winning sit at .523 which projects out to 76 points at the end of the year. The Elmira Jackals and Toledo Walleye come in at .511 which will bring them home with 73+ points. The battle will be tight and for the Cyclones, it has to start now. By our estimation the Cyclones will need to earn 30 points over Their last 26 games to have a shot at the post season. Is it impossible, of course not. In fact, it would require the Boys to post a win percentage of about .577 over Their last 26. That’s a record of 15-11 which is very obtainable.

Breaking those last 26 games down it looks like this; 14 games within the North Division, 11 against the South and 1 against the Atlantic. The games within the Division break down to 7 against Kzoo, 6 against Toledo and 1 with Wheeling. The games with the South start with 3 with Florida, 1 against Greenville (all at USBA) before the southern swing which includes 3 games each with South Carolina and Greenville and a single tilt with Gwinnett.

The games against the South Division will be key, of the 8 teams They have left on the schedule, the 4 South Division teams are the only ones the Cyclones have winning records against (3-2 vs FLA, 2-0-1 vs SC, and 1-0 vs GWT).

The games within the North Division are more of an open book, with the exception of Wheeling the Cyclones hold .500 records against both Toledo and Kzoo. Given there are 13 games remaining against those 2 teams it’s imperative the Cyclones swing those season series in Their favor. There is one more game against Wheeling and while every game is important in regards to making the playoffs, a win with Wheeling would be big for the Boys simply due to the recent results They’ve had against the Nailers.

When it’s all said and done, all of the above is just math and numbers, the games still have to be played. If Coach Skalde and the Cyclones can find the consistent play we feel they are capable of, They Cyclones should play at least a few more games into April.

We’ll have more regarding Coach Skalde and consistency in an upcoming post. I asked him what it would take for the Cyclones to find consistent efforts at a recent Cyclones’ Coach’s Show. Once the podcast is posted at Cycloneshockey.com we’ll weigh in with our thoughts on his response.

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Other news and notes…

When Florida comes to town for a 3 game set starting Wednesday night, they will no doubt bring along their uptempo transition game. The Cyclones frustrated the Everblades during their trip to Florida and if They’re to do it again they’ll have to do it without Bryan O’Hanely who is still on assignment with Portland.

The Cyclones will have the services of Mathieu Aubin who has returned after a brief call up to the Lake Erie Monsters.

Marc Cheverie has been recalled to Rochester. It’s being reported that Amerks’ net minder Jacob Markstrom is out with a knee issue that isn’t serious but will require surgery but there is no time table set yet on when it will occur. Barring a move by the Panthers or Rochester odds are that Cheverie will be gone for at least while. This will give Chet Pickard the opportunity to prove what a 1st round net minder can do.

The Cyclones received permission from Florida/Rochester to deal Chris Clackson to Greenville for Forward Paul McIlveen. McIlveen will bring more experience into the locker room, but it’s hard to say if he can provide an instant jump start to the offense. Cyclones’ fans may remember McIlveen from the 07-08 South Carolina Stingrays and the 08-09 Elmira Jackals. His best season as a pro was 08-09 when he put up 55pts in 64 games.

-Mike-

Sorry for the hiatus, but I have to be honest, I’m having a hard time getting excited about this Team. Don’t get me wrong, I will always stand behind the Boys and I knew this would be a bit of a rebuilding year with the turnover of the coaching staff but I’m having hard time determining what the identity of this years Squad is; all I can gather is that they want to be physical. Gone is the shut down, grind it out defensive Team we saw under Chuck Weber and in it’s place is a more open free flowing offensive oriented team. The problem is, the Team struggles with offensive and defensive consistency. Although I must admit that the recent game against Reading offered a positive sign of what the Boys are capable of despite it being a shootout loss. It seems to this blogger that the Team is stuck in limbo between what Coach Skalde wants to do and what the personnel is capable of on a consistent basis. The Team is built much like last years which didn’t set any offensive records but won game in the trenches. Until they find Their true identity as a Team They’ll continue to be a .500 hockey club.

There is still a lot of hockey to be played and the Squad isn’t in bad shape standings wise. It’s just a little over a third of the way into the Season and the Cyclones find themselves battling for the top of a tightly contested North Division. The Division lead could be on the line as the Cyclones welcome the Wheeling Nailers for a pair of games. The Nailers currently lead the Cylones by 1pt in the standings and also have 2 games in hand on the Cyclones. It’s needless to say that 2 wins by the Boys would be huge heading into the winter break.

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Since about a third of the season is behind us and the play of some of the individual layers is something that keeps excited about heading down to USBA, I thought it might be fun to hand out some player assessments.

#2 Carl Hudson – Since arriving from Rochester, Carl has been in and out of the lineup as he recovers from various bumps and bruises. While not a true stay at home defenseman, he isn’t quite offensive either. He plays a little on the chippy side and his +5 rating isn’t shabby over 17 games on a team which has trouble scoring at times.

#3 Benn Olson – He’s growing on me. His skating is a liability but when he keeps it simple he’s a serviceable defenseman earning a +7 rating in 23 games. His real roll is as an enforcer and it’s a roll is one that he excels at and seems to relish.

#4 Brock Sheahan – What can I say about Brock that hasn’t been said before. He’s a solid defenseman will to block shots and works hard along the boards. His consistent defensive zone play will be key as the Season progresses.

#5 Brian O’Hanley – Brian is thriving under Coach Skalde’s more offensive game systems. He’s racked up 17pts so far this Season while still taking care of business in the defensive end.

#8 TJ Fast – Despite trailing Brian O’Hanely in scoring by defensemen, TJ is probably the most offensive of the Cyclone defensemen. He has a big shot but his skating is his best asset although it can get him in trouble sometimes when he gets caught too deep or loses the puck.

#9 Mathieu Aubin – Mathieu’s weak point was always his skating but that is a thing of the past. He has more jump in his initial 1st step to go along with more open ice speed. He’s still physical, he still chirps and oh yeah, he leads the Cyclones in scoring. It won’t surprise me if he isn’t rewarded with an AHL call up at some point.

#10 Christiaan Minella – He’s listed at 6’2″ 210lbs but plays much bigger if that’s possible. He’s effort was something that impressed me all the way back in training camp. He throws his body around with aplomb and has found a scoring touch recently. Christiaan has all the attributes that will allow him grow into top performer at the ECHL level with an AHL upside.

#11 Barrett Ehgoetz – Barrett is 2nd on the Team in scoring (Dylan Hunter is currently on assignment w/Milwaukee) and plays in all situations. He is the Captain and anchor if the Squad and I can’t really picture the Cyclones without #11 in the lineup.

#12 Scott Lehman – Scott made and instant impression on the score sheet after arriving from Rochester. He’s listed as a defenseman but has spent time up front under Coach Skalde. He’s solid in the defensive zone but really makes his mark stepping up to join the offensive rush.

#15 Sam D’Agostino – Along with Christiaan Minella, Sam was one of the players that really stood out during training camp. The kid has wheels and has been a pleasant surprise registering some big points in games. Only a +1 he needs to pick up his defensive play and he could stand to be a little more physical but you can’t argue with Sam’s effort on every shift.

#16 Ryan Del Monte – Ryan has returned to the Cyclones after fulfilling a PTO with Rochester. Ryan isn’t a guy that will light up the scoreboard but he will provide the Squad with energy and a lot of grittiness.

#17 Chris Clackson – Chris is another grinder who has shown a bit of scoring touch. His play may not always be the prettiest thing going but it’s proving to be quite effective.

#19 Brett Robinson – Unfortunately Brett has been lost for the Season to injury. Brett wasn’t scoring with the same consistency as last Season but watching him play I felt it was was just a matter of time before he had that break through game to find his rhythm. Brett was skating well, attacking the net and playing with a chip on his shoulder as always.

#23 Matt Pierce – Matt has been plugging along pretty consistently. He earned a call up to Rochester which will hopefully bring his game up to a higher level.

#24 Kevin Roeder – Despite his size Kevin is probably the most physical of the Cyclone defenseman. This Season Kevin seems to be chasing the big hits a little less than last which will help his defensive play and his durability. He’s not shy about jumping into the rush under Coach Skalde and his willingness to provide a big hit comes in handy on the forecheck during dump and chase situations.

#25 James DeLory – I’m not sure where to begin and if someone can enlighten me as to how this kid is playing AA level hockey I’d appreciate it. His skating is a bigger liability than Olson’s. He doesn’t fight as well as Olson, at least as far as I’ve witnessed. The only upside that I can find is that he’s big, strong kid. He was finally put in front of the net on the power play during the game against Reading where he did manage to wreak some havoc.

#26 Dustin Sproat – Dustin returning to the Squad was a huge addition. He’s a heady player, who plays in all scenarios. He made an instant impression on the scoresheet and while not known for fighting he plays with an edge and isn’t afraid to mix it up. He earned a call up to Milwaukee last Season and with Rochester struggling I wouldn’t be surprised to Chuck give him an opportunity at some point.

#27 Scott Reynolds – Scott isn’t scoring with the verve he was last Season. He’s another player that plays in all situations and with as much time as the Cyclones have spent killing penalties this season I can’t help but wonder if that’s effecting his offensive play. He’ll need to find his scoring touch if the Cyclones are going to be a factor down the stretch. Then again, that can be said about all of this years Squad with not a single player averaging more than a point per game.

#32 Dylan Hunter(Currently on assignment with Milwaukee) – Dylan was acquired by the Cyclones in an off-season trade which sent Brett Motherwell plus future considerations to Utah. While Brett Motherwell has spent all Season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Dylan has been in the Cyclones’ lineup. Last Season Dylan averaged more than a point per game for Utah. This Season he’s been flirting with the point per game average. He also leads the Team at +12. Initially I thought he was a bit overrated early on but that was when the team was struggling. As the Team dynamic improved so did Dylan’s over play.

Goaltending – After a rough start which saw numerous odd man rushes and a porous defense which saw all of the Cyclones goalies struggle the team play has improved and the Cyclone net minders have shown that they are more than capable. Marc Cheverie has seen 568 shots which is near the most in the League, he ranks in the 9th among active ECHL goalies in GAA, 10th among active goalies in SV%, and has racked up 3 shutouts. Jeremy Smith has spent much of the Season with Milwaukee and has post wins at the AHL level. Chet Pickard began to find his game after struggling for months before being called up due to the injury of Nashville’s Pekke Rinne. It will be interesting to see who gets reassigned to the Cyclones when Rinne returns.

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In case we don’t check in before the Christmas check out this little nugget from the Belfast Giants.

-Mike-

We’ve been a little quiet over here at CycWords lately, but let’s be honest; we really haven’t much to talk about. The Cyclones, who are notoriously slow starters, have taken it to a new level this year, winning just 2 games in Their 1st 10 and requiring 11 games to tally Their 1st win in regulation. We knew that with wholesale changes to the coaching staff we would be seeing some serious changes to the over all play of the Squad. However, with so many returning players from last years Championship team returning, the sluggish start is disappointing to say the least.

 

The tide could be changing as the Boys managed to take 3 out or 4 possible points on Their recent road trip, losing in OT to Trenton and fighting off Wheeling for Their 1st regulation win. The positive trend continued when the ‘Clones returned home to defeat the Toledo Walleye for Their 1st home win of the season.

 

While current streak of earning points is nice and we’re optimistic, we still have concerns; starting at the final line of defense, goaltending. The Cyclones goalie tandem currently consists of Marc Cheverie and Chet Pickard. Pickard, who was demoted by the Nasheville Predators from the AHL Milwaukee Admirals to the Cyclones, has been off his game for some time. He is struggling in most facets of his game. Outside of a few acrobatic saves, his play is   that he may have had a hard time making an ECHL level team on a free agent try-out; potential can only get a player so far. Marc Cheverie, on the other hand, is playing very strong as he has for most of the season, but he’s a rookie netminder and we can’t expect him to continue at this level without suitable rest. If Pickard can’t get his game back with some consistency, it could be a long season.

 

The defense seems to be improving as well, at least based on the goals against the past few games. The concern here is that the Boys are still giving up a lot of shots. In the last 3 games the ‘Clones have been out shot 123 to 56 (55 to 21 vs Trenton, 38 to 16 vs Wheeling and 30 to 19 vs Toledo). Granted, those numbers came from ECHL score sheets so their accuracy is questionable, but it’s a disturbing trend regardless. Even if all those shots are coming from low risk areas, a team can’t expect to win a lot of games getting out shot 2 to 1, requiring the netminder to play shutout or 1 goal hockey on a nightly basis. While the shot differential is concerning, the transition defense has improved greatly limiting the odd man rushes that were common place very early on. There are still some issues with controlling the puck out of the zone, but that’s a blog post for another day…

 

While the defense is showing signs of improving, the offense is still in neutral. They have only netted more than 3 goals in a game twice this season; in the OT win over Elmira and in the OT loss to Trenton. The Team has given up more then 3 goals per game in 7 of Their tilts thus far, so it would be nice if the Boys would find Their scoring touches sooner rather than later. However, we recall that last season we waited for the offense to start clicking as well, but it never really did. Instead, last years team shored up the defensive zone play and simply out worked Their opponents on a nightly basis. It wasn’t always the prettiest hockey to watch, but we know where it got them.

 

The offense and PK (which has gotten the job down as of late) will hopefully get a jump from the return of Dustin Sproat. Sproat, who left over the summer to play in England has returned to the Queen City. CycWords hopes to bring you more on Dustin, his time in England and his return in the weeks ahead.

 

The Cyclones have played all of Their Division foes at this point and with the exception of the home opener at USBA, all the games have been tightly contested. This weekend will be another test for the Squad when Eastern Conference leading Gwinnett comes to town. The Gladiators rank 3rd in the League in goals for with 41 and are fairly stingy having allowed just 30 goals in 11 games, the Cyclones by comparison have scored just 31 and allowed 42. Gwinnett also ranks well in both the power play and penalty kill. The match up should be a good indicator of the progress the Cyclones are making.

 

-Mike-

After 4 games the Cyclones have earned 4 points which places them in 3rd place in the North Division and 5th in the Eastern Conference. It’s still very early so there’s not much point in putting too much concern into the placings and with the Team improving from game to game there is no reason the Boys won’t have more wins than loses in the near future.

If there wasn’t already enough pressure on Coach Skalde to continue the success the Cyclones enjoyed under Chuck Weber, the ante was just raised as prohockeynews.com picked the Cyclones to win the North Division and repeat as Kelly Cup Champions. Time will tell if Coach Skalde can make this prediction come to fruition, but I for one prefer to be the underdog and over achieve than to be the favorite and..well, I don’t even want to think about that. It’s hard to say how things will shake out after just playing a few games but it’s no doubt the Cyclones are on the short list of favorites simply based on the battle tested core of returning players and solid goal tending.

The Cyclones will see the rest of the North Division this weekend as they head to Toledo on Friday before Their home opener at USBA on Saturday. While I’ll be looking forward to seeing the 2010 Banner get raised to the rafters I’ll be just as interested in seeing the Wheeling Nailers in person. After the 1st few games Wheeling appears to be rolling,  Toledo seems to be faltering and the Cyclones and Kalamazoo played in 2 very tight contests, seeing the final 2 North Division opponents could give us a good idea of where the Boys stand; at least for the early Season.

News and Notes…

– The Cyclones released JC Sawyer this week. Sawyer was the 2010 ECHL Defenseman of the Year. There is no doubt the guy has the ability to put up points but the scouting reports on him indicate that he is a defensive question mark. I can’t help but wonder if Sawyer was brought in as an experiment; was his defensive ability questioned because of the systems he’s played in or was he really a liability? I can only guess as to why he was released but my observations from training camp didn’t put my worries about his defensive ability to rest.

– While JC Sawyer was heading out, Carl Hudson was heading in. Hudson was signed to an entry level contract over the summer by the Florida Panthers. He put up decent numbers at the collegiate level and is an open book at the pro level at this point. His potential may have impressed the Panthers enough to earn an entry level deal, but getting assigned to Cincinnati indicates that at this point it’s still just potential. He has a gritty side to him as well apparently as letsgoamerks.com wrote over the summer after the signing. After reading letsgoamerks.com and the associated comments, I’m interested in seeing this kid, to see if he can actually play and manage to keep his cool.

Jeremy Smith is on his way back to Milwaukee this week but there is no need for Justin Axelson (or any other EBUG) to be ready to hop on the bus with the boys as they head to Toledo since Predators 2008 1st round draft pick Chet Pickard will be on his way here. This move appears very similar to the move that saw Smith spend time in Milwaukee while Mark Dekanich was sent down. Pickard has been struggling in the early season so some time in Cincinnati shuld give him time to work on some things and possibly give him some added motivation to perform at a high level. Pickard was a guy I was hoping to see last season but he out played Smith during training camp. If Chet comes down with the right attitude, it could be a short stay and be lights out for the opposition. The downside to the move is that Kelly Cup Playoff Co-MVP Jeremy Smith will most likely not be in the pipes on Saturday Night for the Banner raising. Although I’m sure if Jeremy gets some AHL playing time he’ll be just fine with the decision.

 

-Mike-

Leggo my Ehgo: Captain Barret Ehgoetz will be rejoining the Cyclones for a fifth season. Ehgoetz, 29, will be returning for his sixth professional season (prior to joining the Cyclones in 2006, he played for the Utah Grizzlies under then-assistant coach Chuck Weber). In his four seasons with Cincinnati, he has scored 81-152-233 in 271 regular season games (0.86 points per game), and 18-29-47 in 71 postseason games (0.66 ppg). According to cycloneshockey.com, Ehgoetz owns 21 team records, including: career scoring lead (233 points), games played (271), assists (152), shorthanded goals (eight) and shots on goal (696). In his time with the Cyclones, he has been consistently one of the best penalty killers, typically joined on a top PK unit with Scott Reynolds. His veteran presence and Selke-style play will continue to be huge for the Cyclones.

Catching a Predator: For the fourth consecutive season, the Cyclones will remain the ECHL affiliate for the Nashville Predators and Milwaukee Admirals. Last season, the Predators sent one player to Cincinnati (Jeremy Smith), Milwaukee sent four (Mark Van Guilder, Ian McKenzie, Reid Cashman, and Jason Jozsa), and one Cyclones player (Dustin Sproat) was given a PTO for the Admirals. With the move, the Cyclones formally announced their agreement with Montreal had come to an end.

Desjardins bids les Canadiens adieu: After four years as a member of the Montreal system, Cedrick Desjardins was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for goaltender Karri Ramo. According to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, the Habs traded the 24 year old netminder as a “favor” to him. Ramo is currently playing for the KHL’s Omsk, so Kelly Cup Co-MVP Robert Mayer will likely make the jump to Hamilton as Curtis Sanford’s backup. With the Lightning organization, he rejoins former Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher (Tampa head coach), and former Bulldogs GM Julien BriesBois (Norfolk GM).

Who’s in Goal? As of now, Nashville has five goaltenders professionally active in their system, which once again allows them to place a goaltender in Cincinnati. Pekka Rinne’s position as Preds starter is the only certainty. Unless they sign a formidable NHL backup, that leaves the backup position to a fight between Mark Dekanich, Chet Pickard, and new signee Anders Lindback. Seth over at OnTheForecheck has a great write up on the Preds’ goaltending situation, and by the looks of things, Jeremy Smith is likely to rejoin the Cyclones in October unless he has a strong camp and earns his way into a role in Milwaukee.