Posts Tagged ‘Fort Wayne Komets’

If you’re a Cyclones’ fan the internet has been a place of doom and gloom over the past few weeks; player call ups and some lethargic play has had people thinking the worst. The last time we checked though, we saw the sky wasn’t falling, it was just rain, and as that little ginger orphan girl once sang, “the sun will come out tomorrow…” Well, it looks like the sun did come back out this past weekend as the Cyclones posted 2 big character building road wins against Greenville and Gwinnett. On paper things didn’t look good for the ‘Clones as they headed South without defensive anchor Chris Reed, and forwards Michael Pelech and Mathieu Aubin. Indeed, the Boys would fall behind but post 3rd period comebacks to pull 4 points out of the weekend. Here’s a quick side note regarding the Greenville game; Road Warriors head coach Dean Stork sent out his resident goon, Sean Berkstresser, as his final shooter in the shoot out, he does realize the shooter isn’t allowed to elbow the goalie in the head before shooting right?

The weekends’ wins keep the ‘Clones 4 points ahead of Toledo and 8 points clear of Fort Wayne in the North Division. They also, bring up and interesting talking point; the Team slumped coming out of the All Star break posting a 2-4 record despite having one of the most reinforced lineups they’ve had in some time. Fast forward to the trip South on the weekend and the Cyclones, with a roster weakened by call ups, play 2 very solid games. Did they coast through those games after the break thinking a talent filled lineup would see them through? Regardless of what the answer is, the results over the weekend, in the face of adversity, show the true character of this years team. In the ECHL, call ups happen and rosters change, but good teams find ways to win. That’s what the Boys did over the weekend.

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We know you’ve been waiting for it and here it is, the Cyclones have a magic number of 33. If you’re not familiar with how magic numbers work, here’s the deal, the number will decrease by 2 every time the Cyclones win and/0r the 9th place team (based on maximum points available) loses, and by 1 if the ‘Clones lose in OT/SO and/or the 9th place team loses in OT/SO. When the number is 0, the ‘Clones are in.

Since, Reading is the only team in the Eastern Conference that’s managed to create any separation from the field and with just 9 points separating 4th place Greenville (which actually has more points than the ‘Clones) and 9th place South Carolina, staying on top of the North Division is key to avoiding the dog fight for a playoff position. The Cyclones’ magic number to clinch the North Division is 43. The same rules apply to this number except rather than decreasing when the 9th place team loses, it decreases when the 2nd place team loses, which is currently Toledo.

The Cyclones have 22 games remaining so they do hold Their playoff future in Their own hands, but let’s face it, those are big numbers for this point in the season, so there’s no time to take a night off. What will it take to get in? Based on history 80pts should be good enough to get in, 75pts is questionable, and less than 75pts and you get an early tee time. If the Cyclones can manage .500 over their remaining games, they should be safely playing in April. What will it take to win the North Division? It’s hard to put a point total on it but 14 wins over the last 22 will put the Boys at 90 points which should do it, and that means maintaining Their current .620 point percentage.

Looking at the rest of the Conference, Evansville and Trenton are all but dead in the water, but the Cyclones still have 3 games left against each and They can’t afford to be complacent in those match-ups. Orlando isn’t far from having their bubble burst, they need to string some wins together in a hurry if they want to battle for the 8th playoff position. Wheeling and Kalamazoo are in a similar situation, a few more losses and both will get some extra nights to spend at their local casinos. That leaves the South Carolina Stingrays, they’ve got the best chance of all the teams on the outside. They’re tied with 8th place Fort Wayne, have played 2 more games at this point. On a personal note, we’re pulling for South Carolina here at CycWords, simply because we’d love to see the fan and media backlash that would occur in Fort Wayne if the Komets didn’t make the playoffs.

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So there you have it, the latest edition of CycWords. Teams slump sometimes, but it’s no reason to watch every episode of Doomsday Preppers on Netflix. it’s how they react in the face of adversity and the Cyclones have done just fine throughout the season. It will be a dog fight but there’s no reason to think the Boys won’t be playing hockey in April.

We didn’t have much to say last season but if you saw any of the games in person, which if you’re reading this blog you probably did, you know there really wasn’t a whole lot of good stuff to blog about. We didn’t want to be overly negative which would have been very easy to do so we decided to follow our mom’s advice and keep our mouths shut. Sure, there were some good things last year; the home record, the play of Anthony Luciani, Dan Eves and Michael Pelech, as well as the play of some the fill in guys like Derek St. Marie, who made up for what he lacked skill wise with pure energy and really brought a spark to his linemates. However, when it was all said and done none of those things translated to team success and the ‘Clones missed the playoffs for just the 3rd time in Their history (more on that later). Well, we’ve let stew long enough and it’s time to come at the upcoming season with renewed energy.

 Over the next few weeks we’ll be getting caught up on what’s been going on over the summer. So let’s get on with it….

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 The new North Division…

 If you’ve been following League news over the summer, you know the Chicago Express are now defunct and have been replaced by the Fort Wayne Komets and the Evansville Iceman. Evansville bounced around minor league hockey before getting absorbed into the the IHL/CHL before making their way to the ECHL. We think Evansville is a good fit for the League.

 Fort Wayne on the other hand might be a different story. The Komets are one of the longest standing minor league hockey teams out there. They have a storied history and great attendance, both of which are great for the ECHL. Then there’s the Komet’s ownership. There’s a lot of rumor and specualtion about the Frankes (Fort Waynes ownership) which if true could disrupt things within the League. If they decide to play by the Leagues rules, which so far it seems like they have, then their addition will be great for the Komets and the League.

 The League will also welcome the Orlando Solar Bears to the South Division, as well as, the San Fransisco Bulls to the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. We’re excited to see both Orlando and San Fransisco join the League. The ‘Clones and Solar Bears will always share championship ingredient. Despite it being a different League, the Solar Bears, along with a young video analyst named Chuck Weber, bounced the Cyclones from the playoffs in 2001 on their way to capturing the IHL’s Turner Cup. Weber would later guide the Cyclones to two Kelly Cup Championships in his four years as the Cyclones head coach.

 We’re also happy to see the League finally expanding westward with the addition of the San Fransisco Bulls. We haven’t been shy about voicing our displeasure with Western Conference’s eight teams and biased playoff format. The addition of the Bulls is a step in the right direction. However, it’s still not clear how an additional team will affect the Western Conference’s playoff format.

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 The schedule….

 It’s a long season; 72 games, 36 home and away, but for teams getting off to a slow start the season can be over before you know it. The Cyclones will play 6 road games in Their 1st 10 games, and They won’t see a road trip longer than 2 games until December 28th thru January 4th when They’ll take on all 4 Divisional opponents. It’s a schedule that should really help if the Team is anything like last season Squad which struggled mightily on the road on road trips while excelling at home.

Diving into the schedule a little deeper, the ‘Clones will face North Division opponents 39 times, Atlantic Division opponents 18 times and the South Division 15 times. The League has brought back inter-conference play this season but none of the Western Conference teams will make their way to US Bank Arena.

As per usual the ‘Clones will see a division heavy schedule with 39 of Their games being played against North Division foes. They’ll play 20 of those games at home. The ‘Clones will face Toledo 9 times (4h/5a), Kalamazoo 8 times (5h/3a), Fort Wayne 9 times (3h/6a) and Evansville 13 times (8h/5a). It looks to be a favorable division schedule for the ‘Clones, facing what has been a dominate K-wings team just 8 times while getting new comers Evansville 13 times. We think those 13 games against the Ice Men will be key if the Cyclones are to make a run at returning to the top of the North Division.

The 18 Atlantic Division games are split evenly with 9 at home and 9 on the road. The 2012-2013 Squad will get an early season bonding opportunity when they head north to the thriving metropolis of Elmira, New York for a pair of games in late October. They’ll also get the Jackals 2 more times at USBA. The ‘Clones will see the Trenton Titans the most of any Atlantic Division team splitting a 6 game series. The Wheeling Nailers will make 3 visits to USBA while the Cyclones will be getting that “Wheeling Feeling” just twice. Three (2h/1a) matchups with Reading wrap up the Atlantic Division tilts.

The ‘Clones will make 3 trips south this season starting with an early trip to Greenville for 2 games in November. The Boys will head south again to play Greenville (1) again along with Gwinnett (1) in early February. They’ll wrap up Their journeys south with 4 game trip through Georgia (Gwinnett) and Florida (Florida -2, Orlando -1) in late March before they return home for the final 2 regular season games at US Bank Arena. Florida (3), South Carolina (3) and Orlando (1) will all make trips to Cincinnati this season.

Overall, the schedule looks favorable for the Cyclones given that there aren’t a lot of long road trips. Keys for the Cyclones will be the 13 matchups with newcomers Evansville and the final swing south. Given the divisional bias of the schedule if the ‘Clones can’t play .600 or better hockey within the division the playoffs will prove to be an uphill battle.

In our next post we’ll pass along our thoughts on the personnel behind the bench, as well as the affiliates.

We’re a little late on this but it was announced this week that Dean Stork will be returning as the Cyclone’s Assistant Coach for the 2009-2010 season. I’m glad to see this. In the 3 years that Coach Stork has been with the squad, the defense, which he has been responsible for, has been top notch.

In other news, the rumors regarding Matt Syroczinski’s potential return to the Fort Wayne Komets  are not rumors. Chico will not be rejoining the Cyclones for 2009-2010, he will instead lace them up for the Komets. Matt will be missed, especially if healthy. Heck, even when playing injured as he was for most of 2008-2009, his offensive prowess never let up. Good Luck with the Komets and sorry again for being on your case so much last season.

Not only will Syroczynski be rejoining Fort Wayne, but so will former short term ‘Clone Mitch Woods. Mitch played a handfull of games at the beginning of last season for the Cyclones. I really wanted to like the guy, but he failed to impress me at the ECHL level given all the hype he generated coming from the IHL.

-Mike-