Posts Tagged ‘Greenville Road Warriors’

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.

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.

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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.

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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-

As we get ready to roll into March and the real push for the playoffs we thought it would be good to bring up the magic numbers that will give everyone an idea of where things stand. First and foremost the Eastern Conference standings currently look like this:

1 *Reading Royals 55 35 15 2 3 75 0.682 192 165 0-2-0-0 7-3-0-0 818
2 *Greenville Road Warriors 58 35 20 2 1 73 0.629 197 157 3-0-1-0 6-3-1-0 805
3 *Kalamazoo Wings 56 30 20 2 4 66 0.589 202 188 9-0-0-2 8-0-0-2 926
4 South Carolina Stingrays 57 32 21 2 2 68 0.596 163 163 3-0-1-0 6-2-1-1 771
5 Florida Everblades 59 30 25 1 3 64 0.542 200 185 0-1-1-0 4-4-1-1 1045
6 Wheeling Nailers 56 29 24 0 3 61 0.545 185 166 0-8-0-1 1-8-0-1 932
7 Elmira Jackals 55 25 23 6 1 57 0.518 200 200 3-0-0-0 5-3-1-1 1169
8 Cincinnati Cyclones 55 24 22 6 3 57 0.518 159 180 0-1-0-0 5-4-0-1 1020
9 Gwinnett Gladiators 57 25 25 2 5 57 0.500 167 198 3-0-0-0 5-5-0-0 1002
10 Toledo Walleye 55 25 26 3 1 54 0.491 179 206 0-3-0-0 4-6-0-0 956
11 Trenton Devils 57 21 31 1 4 47 0.412 179 208 0-3-0-1 4-5-0-1 995

 

With that out of the way, here’s how the “magic numbers” break down:

Reading – 14

Greenville – 16

Kalamazoo – 23

South Carolina – 21

Florida – 25

Wheeling – 28

Elmira – 32

Cincinnati – 32

The “magic number” represents the number of points needed to reach 89 points which is one more than Toledo (currently in 10th place but can potentially score more points than Gwinnett bases on 2 fewer games played). The number decreases by 2 each time the team wins or when Toledo (or whichever team is in 9th place based on total available points) loses. The number decreases by 1 when the team or 9th place team loses in OT/SO. When the “magic number” hits 0 the team can not finish lower than 8th and is in the playoffs.

There is also a “tragic number” for those teams on the outside looking in. The “tragic number” is essentially the number of points the team is away from being eliminated. They are as follows:

Trenton – 22

Gwinnett – 32

Toledo – 33

The “tragic number” reduces by 2 when the team loses or the 8th place (currently Cincinnati) wins in regulation and by 1 when the team loses in OT/SO or the 8th place team loses in OT/SO. When the “tragic number” hits 0 the team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

For example, if the Cyclones beat Toledo in regulation, the ‘Clones “magic number” becomes 28 based on the Cincinnati win and Toledo loss. Toledo’s “tragic number” would become 18. That’s the proverbial 4 point game that we talk about at times.

It’s important to keep an eye on the standings to see where teams stand, as the 8th and 9th place teams will change and the “magic/tragic” numbers will then be effected by other teams.

Get it?

Here’s how the schedule breaks down for the battling for the last few playoff spots:

CIN TOL ELM GWT TRE
Games remaining 17 17 17 15 15
Games left with group 5 8 7 5 9
Games left with CIN X 4 0 1 0
Games left with TOL 4 X 1 0 3
Games left with ELM 0 1 X 2 4
Games left with GWT 1 0 2 X 2
Games left with TRE 0 3 4 2 X
Games left with REA, GRV, KAL 8 5 8 6 11

So what does it all mean?

For Cincinnati, while the Division isn’t mathematically out of reach the ‘Clones will need loads of help and is unlikely. The ‘Clones could climb as high as 5th but given the inconsistent play that has plagued Them throughout the season it is much more likely for them to hold onto 8th or perhaps climb to 6th or 7th. The 3 games with Toledo will be key and could determine whether the Fish or the ‘Clones make a run for the Cup. The way the schedule plays out, the Kalamazoo Wings are quite the allies of the Cyclones as just about any K-Wings win (provided they aren’t against the Cyclones) will benefit the ‘Clones’ playoff chances.

Toledo will get Trenton 3 more times before playing 5 of 7 against current Division leaders. It makes those 3 games must wins for the Fish. The 3 game series with Cincinnati at the end of March could be even more important for the Fish than the ‘Clones. Toledo may have to take 2 of 3 to get in.

Elmira has been on a roll since firing Malcolm Cameron (go figure!) and hold the tie breaker with the ‘Clones based on wins (25 to 24). The Jackals have 4 more games with Trenton which could go along way towards getting them into the post season. However, time will tell if the Jackals current form is just a surge as a result of Cameron’s firing as often happens after coaching changes or if they’re really making a run. If they really have found their stride, they should sneak in.

Gwinnett probably has the toughest road to the post season of the teams battling for the final few spots. The Gladiators have played 2 more games than all but Trenton. Also, 11 of their remaining 15 are either against teams fighting for their playoff lives (5) or division leaders (6). The 5 games with the teams in the playoff battle will be must wins, any points dropped here could seal their early tee times.

The Trenton Devils are all but dead in the water. While they are good against the teams in the playoff battle (10-8-1), 6 of their remaining games are against Division leaders. They have a mathematical chance of getting in but they have to turn it around now and have no room for error.

The Wheeling Nailers should make it in. However, if their current struggles continue, which is very possible, it could get dicey near the end. Wheeling’s success is tied directly to their roster and with so many guys being called up, and finding success in the AHL, even if they make it, they aren’t likely to hang around long unless they get those guys back.

Reading, Greenville, South Carolina, Kalamazoo and Florida are all in baring monumental collapses down the stretch.

So there you have it. We’ll be trying to update the Cyclones’ magic number for you as it changes. We’ll be back tomorrow to look back at February and weigh in the the trades and other personnel changes. We’ll also be bring you the first draft of our playoff predictions later in the week.

-Mike-

We didn’t go on a permavaction, but we have been enjoying some much needed relaxation time. Have a couple updates to nibble on:

The ECHL wrapped the Board of Governors Meetings in Las Vegas and the Cyclones Front Office walked away with some hardware;  Ticket Rep Josh Burdine was named Ticket Rep of the Year and Kristen Ropp was names Executive of the Year. Also, hang on to those American Conference Champions T-Shirts; the League has decided to rename the Conferences. The American Conference will now be known as the Eastern Conference and the National Conference will be called the Western Conference. Personally, I think they should have called the American Conference the ECHL and then called the National Conference “Those other teams that think they are better than they are.” There were two Division name changes as well, the old American Conference Eastern Division will now be the Atlantic Division and the former National Conference Western Division is now the Mountain Division.

– Assistant coach Dean Stork was named the head coach of the new Greenville (SC) Road Warriors. Congratulations to Coach Stork. He’ll be coaching the former Johnstown Chiefs in their new home. Best of luck to him – but not too much!

– Nothing is official as of yet, but latest rumblings about Head Coach Chuck Weber are hinting toward his future home being behind the bench of the Rochester Americans. Weber told Kevin Oklobzjia of the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle that he’d love to coach the Amerks. According to the article, Mike Santos, formerly of the Nashville Predators, was named Assistant GM of the Panthers (Rochester’s affiliate). Prior to joining the Panthers, Santos worked in player development for Nashville — in close quarters with Milwaukee & Cincinnati.

ECHL announced the players receiving Qualifying Offers. As expected the Cyclones qualified the maximum (8) number of players. Jamie Coghlan, Brett Robinson, Matt Pierce, Kevin Roeder, Chris Morehouse, Brock Sheahan, Brian O’Hanley, and Brett Motherwell were all given qualifying offers by the Cyclones. If signed, these 8 players will give the Cyclones a good building block for the 2010-2011 season. Whether or not these players will sign if Coach Weber moves on is another story we can’t speculate on. Absent from the list are notables such as Dwayne Zinger, Scott Reynolds, Dustin Sproat and Barret Ehgoetz. Reynolds and Sproat have signed with teams over seas while Ehgoetz and Zinger are both veterans.

– If you haven’t heard by now, we’ll go ahead and fill you in, John “the Hammer” Hamel is no longer with the Cyclones. There was no official statement from the Cyclones but it was all over Twitter and was confirmed by John on his personal Facebook account. It came as a shock to most fans and John will be missed. Taking John’s place will be Nick Brunker. Nick hosted the Cyclones Coach’s Show this past season and will have big shoes to fill. Best of luck to both John and Nick!