Posts Tagged ‘Mathieu Aubin’

We had all sorts of notes saved for an update. We were going to wax on about how great the Ben Simon era has started and the like, but yesterday the Cyclones dropped a bomb on the fan base; Mathieu Aubin and Michael Pelech had been shipped off to Utah in return for the dreaded future considerations. It’s a move that set the fan base reeling. A quick look at the comments section of the press release on the Team’s Facebook page illustrates how much these guys were liked by the fans. The contributions of the two will certainly be remembered and appreciated, especially Aubin and his roll in winning two Kelly Cups, and we wish them the best, but this is the ECHL and there’s no room for complacency.

While we appreciate what Aubin and Pelech have brought to the team over the years as much as the next fan, if we cut the heart strings and look at the deal rationally, it makes sense. For starters, counting the Aubin and Pelech, the roster stood at 26 players (8 defensemen, 14 forwards and 2 goalies), well above the ECHL limit which currently sits at 23 including the reserve spots (teams can still have an unlimited number of players on 21 day IR). Cyclones PR man Nick Brunker confirmed via Twiter that Tony Turgeon will be placed on 21 day IR. That lowers the roster to 25, still 2 over the cap so 2 players have to go somewhere. Who do you move? It’s a short list when you factor in the number of affiliated players currently with the Team; of those 26 players 15 are connected to one of the parent clubs. Those guys aren’t going to be moved. That leaves 11 players; 5 defensemen and 6 forwards). As we stated in our last post, we advocate hanging onto defenseman; they take a beating and have way to much value when the trade dealine rolls around to deal in an early season move.

That leaves the forwards. In our preseason post ventured that Eves, Aubin and Pelech were safe to make the team, which they all did (sort of). However, that assumption was made without ever having seen the Team skate or play a game. It there’s one word to sum up our observations of this year’s Team it’s skating. This team skates as well of better than any in recent memory, they can flat out fly around the ice. Honestly, we don’t think Aubin or Pelech could keep up with these guys. The knock on Aubin has always been his skating. He has a quick first step which helps him get to the front of the net, but even at the ECHL level he lacks the top end speed to create separation through the neutral zone. Pelech has great hands but is a lumbering skater and a defensive liability. His decision making always seemed to be a half step behind. And keep in mind, Pelech was a player that struggled in Toledo before finding  a home in Cincinnati.

So there’s our two cents. What do you think? Who would you have let go in order to keep the two of them in Cincinnati?

A CycWords update has been long overdue and with Cyclones hockey less then a week away from returning to US Bank Arena, what better time than now?

Behind the Bench…

First up, the big news of the summer; Skalde is out (on is own accord) and Ben Simon is in. We’re sure there were a lot of people jumping for joy at the news that Skalde had taken a position in the AHL and let’s face it there might be a little cause for it. It’s not like his record with the ‘Clones was prolific. Sure he lead the team to a 110-79-27 record in his 3 seasons behind the Cylones’ bench but those 1st two years were anything but successes. In 2010-11 he began the year with a team (most of which at least) had won a Kelly Cup the previous season, but that team was suited to play a certain style of hockey, and rather than adapting, Skalde chose to blow the thing up and by seasons end, the team looked different and still failed miserably in the 1st round of the playoffs. In his second season, the team was filled with young, skilled players that should have fit right into Skalde’s uptempo offensive game. Instead the team floundered their way through the season and missed the post season. It was 1st time since the team’s return in 2006 and just the 3rd time in Cyclones’ history the club failed to play in the post season. Skalde also didn’t make any friends in the fan base when he chose to drop 2-time Kelly Cup winning veterans Scott Reynolds and Barret Ehgoetz from the roster.

On the flip side, in his 3rd year, Skalde got it right. There was change in philosophy which saw defense emphasized, the team bought in, held each other accountable and ultimately finished the year atop the North Division. If not for the injury to Trevor Lewis and that fluke goal against Reading in the Conference Finals, we think the ‘Clones could have captured Their 3rd Kelly Cup. Last season’s success coupled with the number of returning players makes us wonder what the ‘Clones would be capable of with a little continuity behind the bench.

We’d like to wish Coach Skalde the best of luck in Norfolk. While it’s no secret we were highly critical of Skalde’s systems of play, there’s no doubt in his ability to develop a player at the individual level. We think he’ll excel as an assistant bench boss.  Best wishes Jarrod.

If Skalde had returned for the 2013-14 season we think the Cyclones would be short list of potential Kelly Cup winners, the question on our minds now is, “What now?” Honestly, we really don’t know what yo expect out of Coach Simon, who will be taking on his 1st  head coaching role. We’ve watched his press conference and PR man Nick Brinker’s interview and he says all the right things, but then again so has every head coach we’ve heard interviewed. OK, this isn’t really Coach Simon’s 1st head coaching job as he was player/coach of the Sheffield Steelers. That’s right, player/coach, can you say Reggie Dunlop? He lead that team to a Championship before retiring and joining the Rockford Ice Hogs as an assistant coach. That championship experience won’t be the only thing Simon will have going for him when the ‘Clones return to action with Matt MacDonald returning as assistant coach. The continuity of an assistant coach was something Skalde never had and we’re hoping it works in the Cyclones favor.

The Cyclones have enjoyed Their share of success since returning in 2006 and with a good portion of last season’s North Division Champion team returning (including assistant coach Matt MacDonald) there’s no reason that success can’t continue.

Here’s a side bar for you, Ben Simon is the 3rd head coach the Cyclones have had since returning in 2006. He’s also the 3rd coach to have ties to the 2000-01 Orlando Solar Bears which knocked the Cyclones out of the Turner Cup playoffs that year. Chuck Weber was Orlando’s video coach, who infamously found the chink in the Cyclones armor which ultimately lead to their defeat. Jarrod Skalde and Ben Simon were both players. Here’s the 200-01 Solar Bears’ roster in the event you’d like to start guessing who might follow up Coach Simon.

The Team…

Currently the Cyclones preseason roster looks like this(players in red are affiliated):

Forwards (15): Barry Almeida, Mathieu Aubin, Josh Birkholz, Kyle Bodie, Mike Embach, Dan Eves, Jonathan Hazen, Philippe Lefebvre, Trevor Lewis, Anthony Luciani, Wade Megan, Mike Pelech, Vinny Saponari, Matt Smyth. Paul Crowder

Defense (8): Taylor Aronson, Antoine Corbin, Drew Daniels, David MacDonald, Josh McFadden, Chris Reed, Matt Schumnig, Brett Wysopal

Goalies(2): Rob Madore, Scott Darling

That’s a total of 25 players remaining in camp. The ECHL’s roster regulations remain relatively unchanged. The ‘Clones are allowed 20 on Their active roster, 2 on reserve and unlimited on 21 day IR. The reserve spots are almost like additional roster spots as there’s no minimum time length required for a player to remain if assigned to it. The 21 day IR is a little different in that it’s less retro active than in the past. In the pat if a player was on reserve for 7 days and then moved to 21 day IR the player would credit for time served essentially backdating the assignment to 21 day IR and only requiring the to remain out of action for another 14 days. This season the the assignment can only be backdated 3 days. Essentially the Cyclones have a roster cap of 23, provided there aren’t any players that actually have long term injuries and someone is willing to start the season on 21 day IR like Mike Embach did last season. The shortened version, at least 2 of these guys are going to be looking for jobs by the weekend.

We’re proponents of hording capable defensemen, so why not keep all 8 of them. Although Aronson and McFadden are the only affiliated defensemen with the team, both Reed and MacDonald received late season AHL opportunites and as free agents, could receive a call up from any AHL team . If the Simon decides to keep 7 defensemen on the roster the ‘Clones could be just a phone call away from being short on the blue line. Both Corbin and Daniels went -3 over the 2 games in Alaska so if a defenseman is going to get get released look for it to be one of them.

Up front the Cyclones are carrying 15 forwards at the moment, 8 of which are affiliated. Florida did the ‘Clones a favor in recalling Mattias Lidstrom which opens up another free agent slot, at least in the short term. Looking at the list of unaffiliated forwards we can’t see Aubin, Pelech or Eves going anywhere. If the Simon hangs on to 8 defensemen, that leaves Embach, Birkholz, Smyth, and Bodie to fight it out for the remaining  2 roster spots (assuming Simon uses the 21 Day IR). We think Bodie and Smyth would have to be the odd men out in this scenario. If the Cyclones only keep 7 defensemen, the additional roster spot could be left open in the event Mattias Lidstrom (or another AHL player) is sent down, or the final spot could go to either Smyth or Bodie. Regarless of the outcome, the Cyclones will be returning a slew of players from last season’s North Division Championship team.

At this point it’s all speculation though. With the Team’s training camp trip to Alaska, where they split a 2 game series, all we have to go on are the box scores. We’ll find out with the rest of you as things unfold rolling into the weekend. There’s always a chance of players getting recalled so there’s no reason for Coach Simon to jump the gun on releasing players.

That’s all for now. Is it time to drop the puck yet?

 

**Update 10/16/13**

Just when we thought Florida was helping us out, they decided to complicate things by re-assigning John McFarland to Cincinnati. McFarland has the capability of being a game changing player at the ECHL level, unfortunately he’s another affiliated forward in a lineup already loaded with affiliated forwards. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good problem to have but there are downsides as well. Currently, with the addition of McFarland, the Cyclones have 16 forwards, 9 of which are affiliated with either Florida/San Antonio or Nashville/Milwaukee. Essentially it means that a very solid player (Embach or Birkholz) might have to be moved if nothing else changes. If that’s the case, Cyclones fans would do well to head over to Wikipedia to see if there’s a Patron Saint of Hockey Trainers or a Patron Saint of Healthy Hockey Players, at the very least, and start praying. If the Cyclones are forced to carry so many AHL affiliated forwards and the parent clubs get hit with too many long term injuries or illnesses the ‘Clones could find themselves scrambling to find players. Dealing with these scenarios was something Chuck Weber dealt with brilliantly, Jarrod Skalde eventually learned to deal with, and Coach Simon, well, hopefully he’s got connections in the right places.

The best case scenario is it receive 6 to 8 players from the affiliates. That bolsters the lineup but leaves enough ECHL free agents in place so when call-ups eventually happen the overall makeup of the team isn’t affected greatly. The ‘Clones find themselves with 11 affiliated players (not counting goaltender Scott “not Curtis” Darling), 9 of which are forwards. Coach Simon has a tough task in front of him in building this final roster. Yesterday we suggesting hoarding defensemen, and while we still like that idea, keeping 7 might be the most prudent thing to do, simply because carrying so few unaffiliated forwards is a poor decision.

If, however, Coach Simon likes the idea of hoarding defensemen, he does have some options however. First off, assess the health of the team, if there are any unaffiliated players dealing with injury or aren’t in game shape make arrangement to put them on 21 day IR as soon as possible. An ECHL team can place an unlimited number of players on 21 day IR, so if there’s a player, or players, that may not be in game ready until early November, put him on IR and deal with the numbers later; depending on other injuries and call-ups, it’s a problem that might even be avoided. Typically teams won’t use the 21 day IR for healthy players unless they’re willing to go on voluntarily, a la Mike Embach to start last season, so if everyone is healthy don’t expect to see more the 23 total players and that’s assuming a healthy players goes on the 21 day IR.

Another option is the get on the phone with the affiliates and request any players not game ready get re-assigned to the AHL. The AHL has different rules regarding injured reserve (it’s basically unlimited) and given the roster numbers the ‘Clones are dealing with, They can’t afford to offer a roster or IR spot to an affiliated player that isn’t game ready. Based on what we’ve seen coming out of San Antonio, this is the case with Mattias Lidstrom.

The final option if all else fails is trading someone. If it comes to this, we’re working on the assumption that Smyth and Bodie would be expendable over the likes of Embach and Birkholz. Both players are too valuable at this level to be released out right, so why not see if there’s any interest from other teams. If a trade were to be made the Cyclones would receive the dreaded “future consideration” which in the case could be a player down the road should the ‘Clones get hit with injuries and call-ups. If They don’t the deal could always be completed with cash at the end of the season.  It’s not the best option, but it is an option.

At this point all we can do is stay tuned and see how things sort themselves out. The opening day rosters are due into the League today by 3pm.

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.

***

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.

***

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.

***

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.

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.

***

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.

***

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.

You smell that? Fall is in the air and that means hockey. The players have reported and Cyclone’s training camp has begun.  We’ll be getting our first look at the Squad on Sunday, but in the meantime here’s a look at those the ‘Clones have in attendance:

Forwards (13): Mathieu Aubin, Byron Elliott, Alex Penner, Mike Embach, Alex Bourret, Dan Eves, Jordan Ethier, Cory McGillis, Jared Gomes, Blake Gallagher, Matt Sisca, Mike Pelech, Koba Jass

Defense (10): Andrew Hotham, David MacDonald, Mike Liambas, Maury Edwards, Chris Reed, Justin Sawyer, Kenny Bradford, Mike MacIntyre, Mike Noyes, Daniel Spivak

Goalies (2): Brett Bennett, Stephan Cesar

Kenny Bradford, Mike MacIntyre, Mike Noyes, Daniel Spivak, Jordan Ethier, Cory McGillis, Brett Bennett, and Stephan Cesar are all on try-out agreements. The rest of them are under contract with the ‘Clones. Odds are the opening night roster won’t be the same as the list you see above but it’s always nice to know where the Team is starting. We’ll be checking out camp starting Sunday and weigh in mid week with our thoughts on how things are shaping up.

Training camp rosters for the rest of the ECHL can be found here.

***

The AHL opens camp this weekend as well. The San Antonio Rampage have 20 forwards, 11 defensemen and 4 goalies in camp. There are some familiar names in camp with Coach Weber and it would surprise us to see 1 or 2 of them make their way back to the Queen City along with a few new faces. Odds are we’ll see a goalie from the Rampage as well, but don’t get your hopes up, it’s not going to Jacob Markstrom.

Things are a little lighter up in Milwaukee where the Admirals have 27 in camp (15 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goalies). We aren’t expecting too much help at forward from the Admirals based on this list, but we think a defenseman or 2 will float our way with the names Foss or Aronson topping the list. The Ads are likely to send us a goalie as well and we’re looking forward to seeing wither of their Euro prospects, but let’s be honest we really want to see Zoltan Hetenyi, because let’s face it, his name is ZOLTAN.

***

Here’s one last little bit of League news for you. The ECHL Board of Governors approved two proposals recently. Firstly, the Kelly Cup playoffs will take on a new format. Things will remain the same for the Eastern Conference but out West 8 of the 9 teams get in with the Division winners taking the 1st and 2nd seeding. While we think it’s still a bit lopsided to only have to beat out 1 other team to get in we like this better than the old system in which the best regular season team got a 1st round bye. Additionally, all playoff rounds will be best of 7, so no more arguing whether 2-3 format where the higher seed starts on the road is fair or not.

Also, the 3-day and 7-day injured reserve has been replaced by a reserve list. The reserve can have up to 2 players on it at any one time. There is no minimum duration for the list. We think this will give coaches greater roster flexibility than ever before. The rules governing the 21-day injured reserve remain unchanged.

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-

The winds of change have been blowing through the organization again this summer. Last summer it was the change we all new was coming at some point, the departure of head coach Chuck Weber and assistant coach Dean Stork. They were replaced by head coach Jared Skalde and Scott Fankhouser. Fankhouser has since been replaced former NHL veteran Andrew Cassels. Head coach Jared Skalde made another move this summer that shocked many Cyclones fans…

Ehgo gate…

There was no official word from the Cyclones but on August 11th, Ehgoetz, the player considered by most to be the Cyclones franchise player, announced via his Facebook page and Twitter (@BarretEhgoetz) that he had learned the Cyclones would not be inviting him back. There’s a lot of speculation floating around the internet as to why. Was Barret becoming too expensive? Did Barret not want to be a part of the style of hockey Skalde wants to play? Did Skalde feel that Barret wouldn’t be a good fit for the system? Was Skalde looking to further separate himself from the legacy of Chuck Weber? We’re not even going to attempt to answer that question but we will say that if we were hockey coaches we would do what we could to keep a player like Barret on our team. Ehgoetz might be a year older but he’s a smart, right place, right time kind of player. He’s defensively minded but still capable of 50 or so points. He’s proven his durability and heart over the seasons for the squad. What’s not to like about a player like Barret Ehgoetz? Thanks for all the memories Barret and all the best in your future endeavors.

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Egho Gate aside, this summer also marked a change in the PR department. In past years, we’d have to wait until mid August to hear about any player signings. This year Nick Brunker appeased many fans by bringing the Cyclones faithful regular updates on the new players that would be dawning a Cyclones sweater this fall. So without any further delay here’s how the roster is currently shaping up:

Neil Trimm (F)Trimm has spent his pro career in the CHL. His numbers are solid offensively which is something the Squad was sorely lacking last season. There’s never been any question that we like defensively minded hockey here at CycWords and the question we have about Trimm is his defense. His first 2 years as a pro he put up 74pts but was -23. However, last season he put up 80pts and went +24 so perhaps he’s become more of a 2-way player. The ECHL is a much more visible league when it comes to AHL call ups and at 6’2″ 200lbs there’s a chance Trimm may not stick around in Cyclones sweater if he replicates his numbers from last season.

Mathieu Aubin (F) –  We know what Mathieu is capable of and there is no doubt he can excel under Skalde’s offensively oriented system. He’s got good size and uses it well. Mathieu’s skating has always left a bit to be desired but showed improvement last season. If he worked hard over the off season and shows the same improvement there’s no reason he can’t have the kind of break out season that puts him back on the AHL’s radar. That is if he can stay out of the penalty box. Mathieu loves to run his mouth and while it’s entertaining to watch as a fan it does occasionally land him in the box.

Mike Liambas (F)The ‘Bus’ is back. Last seasons controversial late addition will be back again this season. Despite the fan reaction, the word is he’s well liked in the locker room. Mike has quite a reputation and that probably gets him in trouble but we were impressed with his hockey sense. He wasn’t a complete liability on the ice, he found soft spots in coverage offensively and always back checked defensively. The question for the ‘Bus’ will be if he can shake his reputation. The other issue is, while he checks harder than just about anyone we’ve seen, he isn’t a true fighter. His role is more of an agitator and as such really needs a true fighter on the bench behind him (think Morehouse/Benson in 2009-2010). to be really effective.

Ryan Blair (D)Blair will join the Cyclones after spending 4 years at UMASS Lowell. Blair was a plus player for his first 3 years for the Riverhawks before posting a -16 in his senior year. In his defense, looking at the rest of the teams numbers weren’t stellar either. It’s always hard to get what you’re going to get with rookies, some get it quickly and some take some time to come around.

Daniel Koger (F)When training camp gets underway it will have a European flair for the 2nd year in a row. Last season, it was Russian Ruben Begunts  adding the flair, this year it will be Hungarian Daniel Koger. Koger spent last season in the CHL after spending 2 years playing in Austria. Koger put up 52pts last season, his 1st in North America. His production was fairly balanced (29g-23a) which is nice to see. The question with many European players is how well they can adapt to the North American game. Daniel has the size and skill to find success in the ECHL, perhaps even the AHL, time will tell how he adjusts to the additional physicality of the North American game. If you want to get an early look at Koger’s game you can check out his promotional video here. The sound track isn’t child friendly so turn the volume down if there are kids in the room (You have been warned).

Nathan Moon (F)We aren’t even sure where to start on this guy. A quick Google search for “Nathan Moon Hockey” yields enough information to keep minor league hockey bloggers like us busy for days. The short story on the 2008  4th round pick of the Penguins is his positive offensive ability which consists of finishing ability and a quick first step. Apparently his overall skating ability hasn’t progressed much since being drafted and he lacks quick decision making during transition play like “give and go’s”. Statistically, Nathan put up some good offensive numbers during his OHL career (332 regular season points) but was -48. His numbers are almost Thomas Beauregard like, except despite his lack of defensive effort Beauregard was able to maintain a positive +/- in Juniors. Dig a little deeper into that Google search and you’ll find his Hockeyfights.com fight card. Based on it and the associated videos it seems like Moon plays a little on the chippy side. If Moon proves to be a solid 2-way player he’ll be a great addition, if not, Skalde better have something up his sleeve to generate offense while on the penalty kill.

Ryan Annesley (D)Don’t be confused by hockeydb.com, the Cyclones haven’t signed a 29 year old left winger. The Cyclones instead signed another rookie defenseman. Annesley spent 5 years at Niagra University (Ryan only played 7 games during the 09-10 season) where he put decent points as far as defenseman go. The concern for us lies in his final year for the Purple Eagles was his best production wise but also saw his lowest +/- at -9. Skalde bills him as “a very good skater who I see playing on our power play and in offensive situations. I know he’s looking forward to making the next step in his career and I’m excited to have a guy who can make that first pass, join the rush, and be responsible defensively.” Well, isn’t the world just perfect? Time will tell is he can actually pull that off at the professional level.

Matt McIlvane (F)McIlvane, a former Ohio State Buckeye captain, has had a tumultuous pro career. He’s spent time in Europe, played a few games in the AHL but has spent most of his pro career in the IHL/CHL, or whatever they’re calling it these days. He also missed out on much of last season due to injury. In an older write up the team over at Hockeyfutures.com consider Matt to be a power forward type of player with suitable finishing ability. He plays a physical game but needs to work on his passing and on ice vision. He could be a solid net front presence that the Cyclones have lacked in recent season. The question will be how well he has rehabbed from an injury which ended his 2010-2011 season very early which he took some time to discuss with Nick Brunker recently.

Mathieu Curadeau (F)Curadeau is a name Cyclones fans might remember from the 2009-2010 season which he spent with Kalamazoo. Mathieu possesses an AHL upside picking up a game here and there but has spent most of his career in IHL/CHL, with the exception of 09-10 season. That season with Kalamazoo was arguably his best putting up 47pts and ending the season +20. He had some good seasons early in his career for the Fort Wayne Komets but that was back when the Komets basically ran the league so the question has to be asked, “Is he really that good, or is he a product of team he played for?” Last season he returned to the Komets, which were no longer in control of the league and registered just 33 points and was -24. We aren’t really sure what to expect from Mathieu. He’s been billed as a skilled forward everywhere he’s played and that’s what we’ve come to expect from a French Canadian who came up through the QMJHL.

Matt Pierce (F)Pierce will make his return to the Cyclones after an injury shortened his 10-11 campaign. Matt is the type of player which should excel under Coach Skalde. He’s got good size, plays a physical game and has plenty of finishing skill. If he regains the form he had in his rookie season, he’ll probably get more than one look at the AHL.

Dan Eves (F)Eves, a mid season addition last year, returns this season. Eves is a well rounded player who is capable of averaging just shy of a point per game. He skates well and plays a solid physical game. He played just 17 regular season games for the Cyclones last season, but we’re interested in seeing what Dan can do over a full season with Coach Skalde.

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The Cyclones have traded the rights to late season addition and stand out Cory Conacher to Florida for the rights to Brad Snetsinger. Honestly, this isn’t a big deal. While Snetsinger has apparently, signed in Italy (he could return when that season is over), Conacher signed a one-way AHL deal with the Norfolk Admirals. The odds that Conacher laces them in the ECHL are slim at best.

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According to Eliteprospects.com Brock Sheahan has signed with SC Riessersee of the German Second League. Since he received a qualifying offer the Cyclones will retain Bock’s ECHL player rights for the 2011-2012 season. Best of luck Brock in Germany Brock.

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There still isn’t any news on the other players the Cyclones qualified. That doesn’t mean that Garrett Suter, Kevin Roeder, and Eric Kattelus haven’t been signed, just that it hasn’t been announced. However, if they haven’t signed, as of August 1st they were all free agents.

-Mike-