Posts Tagged ‘Garrett Wilson’

If you’re a Cyclones fan the final week of the season probably left you a little wanting. The Teams performance on “Fan Appreciation” weekend wasn’t what we had come to expect based on the previous 70 games. We saw a team taking it easy, just going through the motions, and a goalie that looked a little fatigued. Despite this, the Boys created chances and on Friday night it was enough to squeak out a win. On Saturday, it was a different story. The ‘Clones had Their chances but Evansville goaltender James Reid had all the answers and probably played his best game of the season. In Their own end, the typically stellar Cyclones looked rather lackluster and most Icemen scoring chances converted. It was a disappointing way to end the regular season.

However, all season long we’ve heard the Cyclones push the mindset to “keep looking up.” They clinched the North Division title and had an outside shot at winning the Eastern Conference but that flew out the window with the loss to Reading on March 16th. They were assured of the 2nd seed during Their southern road trip so what did they really have to push for? They could neither move up nor down the standings. They could only watch while the dog fight for the remaining playoff positions were sorted out. Sure there were a few guys that were trying to play their way onto the playoff roster, but for the most part the final games were more about staying healthy over anything else.

Despite the slide at the end of the season the Cyclones finished the year 42-22-8 for 92pts. They topped the North Division and finished 2nd in the Conference. They saw quite a bit of roster turnover through the year, but maintained winning consistently. The real turnaround happened on the road where the ‘Clones posted a record of 20-11-5 for 45 points. It was Coach Skalde’s best year as head coach. It was good enough to earn the John Brophy Award as the ECHL’s coach of the year. We sure there’s some of the ‘Clones fan base that are rolling their eyes at this but the turnaround is astounding, and the award is well deserved. Congratulations to Coach Skalde and the Cyclones for a great regular season but it all means nothing now.

On Monday, a click over to the ECHL’s standing page displayed zeros. No wins, no losses, no power play conversions, and no penalty kills; all the the regular season accomplishments are gone. The only thing left is the ‘Clones 2nd place finish which assures them home ice advantage against all conference foes but Reading, which they can’t face until the Conference Finals. It all comes down to the next 2 months, 4 seven game series, a race to 16 wins. Only one team will end their year with a win. This is the time of year we live for as hockey fans.

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Before we dig into the Cyclones’ playoff roster let’s take a quick look at who didn’t make it.

Tyler Fernadez (F) – Tyler was the proverbial warm body. In game he was rather unnoticeable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s not going to get you on a playoff roster either.

Jeff Rose (G) – We shouldn’t even have to explain this one.

J.T. MacDonald (F) – Family ties aren’t enough sometimes. He played well, but given the a la carte menu of players in the AHL that Skalde can choose from there’s just not room for a player of J.T’s caliber.

Jeff Winchester (D) – Jeff was a fill in player and performed admirably. He made good decisions and rarely got himself in trouble. The addition of Foss coupled with the defensemen playing in the AHL which can be added made Winchester expendable.

David Nicoletti (D) – Nicoletti came over from Europe mid-season and was solid for the ‘Clones. We think that had he stayed healthy he may have had a shot at making the post season roster but a foot injury from a blocked shot sidelined him down the stretch. He came back and played in the Friday night win against Evansville but was a scratch Saturday which makes us think he just wasn’t ready to come back and with the way the Cyclones play defense, filling shooting lanes and giving up the body to block shots, the last thing the ‘Clones need is s defenseman with a tender foot that any moment could block a shot and be back on the shelf.

Andrew Condoy (F) – In a regular ECHL season Conboy makes the roster. Since joining the Team he’s filled his roll well and aside from the Nathan Moon incident, avoided the goon like actions that he’s sometimes known for. Also, the addition of Justin Vaive made Andrew expendable.

Anthony Luciani (F) – Anthony being left off the list is probably the biggest surprise of the bunch. He’s a skilled guy but was hampered by injuries much of the season. While it’s a surpise, it’s not shocking with the likes of Hazen, McFarland, Shalla and Wilson all available for the post season.

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The ECHL officially released the playoff roster earlier this week. The parameters are pretty simple; there’s a 20 man active roster and 3 reserve spots. However, they added something new this season, presumably due to the number of players that started the in the ECHL because of the NHL lockout. Essentially, teams got to submit a list of players that were playoff eligible but on assignment in the AHL. These players can join the team any time before the Conference Finals. A full list of the playoff rosters and a more detailed description of the roster rules can be found on the Leagues website.

As for the Cyclones, they’ve currently named 8 defensemen, 10 forwards, and 2 goalies to the roster. Additionally They have 6 players on the “eligible” list. As they’ve played all year, here’s the breakdown from the goaltenders forward:

Goal tenders (2):

Brian Foster – He was a stud in 2010-2011, strapping the Cyclones to his back, dragging them into the post season. His sophomore year with the Cyclones was a bit lackluster. While we don’t think he’s shown the same for thus far this season as he did in 2010-2011, he hasn’t had to. The defensive play in front of him, has been the core of the Teams success. If Foster can simply maintain the form he had to start the year, the Cyclones will be tough to beat. If he can find the form he had in 2010-2011, even better!

Michael Houser – Houser has carried the load for the last 2 months. He looked sluggish in the final regular season game but with the week off before the 1st playoff game, he should be ready for Friday night in Toledo.

Defense (8):

Taylor Aronson – Aronson’s play over the course of the year earned him some AHL time and a place in the 6 man rotation.

Taylor Ellington – Ellington joined the ‘Clones via a trade with Florida. He’s got some offensive upside, especially on the PP. He’ll see plenty of time  in the 6 man rotation as well.

Jeff Foss – Foss missed most of the year due to injury. He was assigned to the ‘Clones just in time to get his 5 games in. He’s a solid defenseman, with good size and ability. We guess he’ll be in and out of the 6 man rotation depending on how his injury reacts to each game.

David MacDonald – MacDonald has been one of the core guys on defense all season. It earned him a place on the playoff roster. His play has slipped a little over the last few games though. He’ll probably be watching more games than he plays, especially given the other available defensemen.

Josh McFadden – McFadden spent a big chunk of the year with the ‘Clones. We like his offensive ability but he’s been a little soft on the puck exiting his own zone at times. We’ve got him penciled in as the 7th defenseman.

Chris Reed – Chris is a solid stay at home defenseman. His play earned him some AHL time and a spot on the post season roster. Stay at home type defensemen become even more important in the post season so look for him to log plenty of game time.

Charles Olivier-Roussel – He’s got size, strengths and skating ability. He’s easily one of the top 3 d-men on the team.

Brian O’Hanley – The question here is, which “O-H” is going to show up? We all know how he’s capable of playing, but we also know how he’s capable playing. If he plays as he did to start the year or as he did in 2010, he probably rates as the most complete defenseman on the team. If he plays like he did in 2011-2012 or he did this season, post NHL lockout, we don’t want him on the ice.

Forwards (10)

Mathieu Aubin – He’s the captain. He’s got a reputation for being a bit of a goof but his ability at the ECHL level is a given.

Josh Birkholz – He’s got got speed and can finish. He spent the some time recently with San Antonio so hopefully some time up in the AHL will make him that much better.

Mike Embach – Mike made a commitment to this team early in the year when he chose to remain a Cyclone even though it meant being placed on 21 day IR. He’s scored some big goals lately. We’re glad to see his commitment be rewarded with a roster spot.

Dan Eves – What more can be said about Eves? Coach Skalde has said it doesn’t matter who he’s lined up with, Eves makes them better players. He’s played all 3 forward positions not to mention defense when needed. Heck, he might even strap on goalie pads if asked.

Trevor Lewis – Acquired in a trade with Reading, Trevor is a motivated player. He’s got good hockey sense and, after missing time with injury and the failing to break into the Royals lineup, he’s got fresh legs. Lewis is a guy to keep an eye on this post season.

Mattias Lindstrom – The Big Swede. He may not score much but he’s a physical presence and probably one of the best shot blockers on the team.

David Pacan – David took home some rookie team honors and has game changing ability.

Michael Pelech – We’ve had a love/hate relationship with Pelech this season. We know what he’s capable of, but it seemed to up that his decision making has slowed down a bit. That being said we wouldn’t want to head into the post season with out him. Even when he’s a bit off, he’s still capable of putting some points on the board.

Matt Smyth – Matt has been on a tear down the stretch. Brought in as a gap fill player, his contributions couldn’t be ignored. It earned him a roster spot. And while he may not make it all the through the playoffs, we’re glad to see him get a shot.

Justin Vaive – Vaive’s addition made Conboy expendable. He plays a similar to to Conboy but has a better skill set.

Eligible List (6):

Garrett Wilson(F), Josh Shalla(F), Cam Reid(F), John McFarland(F), Jonathan Hazen(F), Anthony Bitetto(D)

All 6 of these guys are game changing additionsm but the ‘Clones will probably have to do without any of them until after, or at least late in, the 1st round. Also, if you do the math you see the ‘Clones have 26 potential players which means if all 6 eligible players return, 3 from the current roster will have to be cut or recalled if affiliated.

We venture that with San Antonio playoff chances improbable, Wilson, McFarland and Hazen are the most likely to be re-assigned. Once the AHL releases their “Clear Day” rosters, there is an outside chance of seeing Cam Reid, but with Milwaukee in the heat of battle for a playoff spot, it’s unlikely.

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So there you have it, your CycWords look at the ‘Clones playoff roster. We’ll be back with a look at the 1st round match up with Toledo and look around the League before Friday.

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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.

As I write this up the Cyclones will be finishing up their morning skate and getting ready to hop on the bus for Johnstown, Pa for the 1st of 3 preseason games with the Wheeling Nailers. I had a chance to take in most of the on-ice training camp sessions and as of Wednesday morning the roster stood at 23.

Forwards (14):

Mathieu Aubin, Matt McIlvane, Garrett Wilson, Daniel Koger, Neil Trimm, Dan Eves, Josh Boyd, Vinny Scarsella, Mike Liambus, Bendan Hull, Shea Carey, Joe Devin, Erik Boisvert, Justin Vaive.

Defense (7):

Ryan Annesley, Ryan Blair, Maury Edwards, David Leaderer, Brian O’Hanley, Chris Reed, Garrett Suter

Goalies (2):

Mike Battaglia, Bryan Hince

The League allows an active roster of 20, however, with use of the IR teams can carry 22 or 23. In the ECHL, rosters are ever changing so the more the merrier and former head coach Chuck Weber was a master of rotating people on an off of IR. Using the 3 and 7 day IR 22 is a manageable roster number. Should someone become more seriously injured in the preseason the team could carry 23 using the long term IR.

Assuming there aren’t any additional additions (which might not be a reasonable assumption) I would expect 1 or 2 of the listed players to be cut.

There are some questions about who will be patrolling the crease for the ‘Clones this season. All indications are that either Chet Pickard or Atte Engren will be assigned by Nashville. On the  Florida/San Antonio side things are a little dicey. The Panthers have lost Scott Clemmensen for a few months so it’s not a question of who, but if the Cyclones will receive someone to start the season. Hince and Battaglia have performed well for training camp goalies, but I’d be surprised if both are still here once the season starts.

My other impressions from training camp, which the rest of you can see 1st hand on Saturday, is the size. There is no question Skalde brought in a group of big, physical guys. On Tuesday and Wednesday Skalde put together a line of Aubin (6’3″ 204lbs) – Matt McIlvane (6’ 207) – Garrett Wilson (6’3″ 206), that’s big, heavy top line. He followed that line up with Koger (6’2″ 195) – Neil Trimm (6’2″ 200) – Dan Eves (6’1″ 210). Also in the mix if former Miami forward Justin Vaive, who tips the scales at 6’6″ 225 and defenseman Ryan Blair at 6’4″ 210. There is no question this is the biggest Cyclones squad in we’ve seen in years. The Koger/Trimm/Eves line really stood out.

In addition to being big, it’s a strong skating squad. The quickness and tempo of practice was impressive.

There are still some a few issues I have with some of Skalde’s systems, long diagonal passes from the defense to a forward through the neutral zone for example, but there were some things that which looked promising. There is only so much one can tell from watching things play out without defensive pressure.

The only downside I can see with this potential line up is that some of these guys might not be around long. Several guys on the roster are on multi-way deals from the affiliates and several others spent time in AHL camps. If they start the season strong they might not stick around in Cincinnati very long as injuries mount up the food chain. Brian O’Hanley and Daniel Koger are already on Chuck Weber’s radar after having strong showing in San Antonio’s training camp.

Unfortunately there won’t be any audio or video for the 2 preseason games on the road against Wheeling so our first real look at the 2011-2012 Cyclones will come on Saturday. If anything jumps out from the scoresheet, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

 

-Mike-