Posts Tagged ‘motherwell’

The weekend didn’t workout quite the way we were hoping but we’re in the playoffs and that’s what matters. Before I look ahead to playoff rosters and the 1st round match up with South Carolina, I want to mention Johnstown again. Mike Mastovich, who has been covering sports for the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, the Chiefs in particular, penned two more articles which I feel are a must read. The Chiefs history in the ECHL goes back to it’s inception and includes some “Slapshotesque” moments, as well as moments marking Johnstown’s longevity in the league. I was glad to read that Johnstown packed the War Memorial on Saturday night. There are a lot of memories in that old building and as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m glad I got to take in a game there. I’ll never forget seeing the Hanson brothers line up against our boys and the look on Cedrick’s face after being “taken out.” It was all a show and Ceddy played his roll perfectly and was grinning ear to ear. Nor will forget seeing David Desharnais negotiate the “step” the players had to manage to get to and from the ice each period (let me just say that it looked to be about half his height.) It’s not unusual for the back up goalie to sit somewhere besides the bench in the game of hockey but Johnstown took it to a whole new level putting the back-ups on a folding chair amongst the crowd. I can still picture Dov Grumet-Morris sitting in the crowd entertaining the youth of Johnstown while the Cylones won yet another game, I could go on and on and I only went to 2 games there. There is talk of Wheeling playing a handful of games in Johnstown next season. If you’re a fan of minor league hockey and you’ve never been, you should try to make it if the Wheeling deal goes through.

OK, now onto to what you’ve really surfed over to read about, THE PLAYOFFS!

The Cyclones ended the Season 44-25-1-2 for 91 points which was 3 points short of winning another North Division Banner. That honour will go to Kalamazoo this Season. I still think the inability to get the close games to OT really hurt the squad in the standings this season. Adding fuel to my argument is this little nugget; the only team with more wins than the Cyclones was Idaho, who won 48 and the Cyclones mere 3 points from OT rank dead last in the League. If there is a positive to take from this it’s that the Cyclones are great at winning games that go to extra time and in the playoffs where only the win matters.

The Boys 91 points earned them the 5th seed in the playoffs and a date with the South Carolina in the 1st round. Odds are the Cyclones will not have a home ice advantage for any round of the playoffs (I can not find information on how home ice will be determined for the Finals, whether it will be according to Conference seeding or more fairly based on point totals.) but for the 1st round best of 5 series I would rather not have home ice but get to open at home. It actually gives our Boys a bit of an advantage from a travel perspective as both teams will have to make the trip to South Carolina on Thursday but the Stingrays will have to make the trip north to start the series. In a condensed 5 game series that will see the teams potentially play 5 games in just 6 days the extra day of travel could be an issue.

As far as the match up goes, many were worried about a match up with Toledo, but I was concerned with South Carolina, despite the head to head records. It’s true the Cyclones went 3-1 against the Stingrays this season but we never really faced them with the full line up and goalkeeping that put them on top of the South Division early on. The Playoff rosters are due in Monday afternoon but they probably won’t be announced to the public until just before game time Tuesday. I’m not sure how many call-ups and injuries the Stingrays are dealing with right now, but if they are healthy and have players back from recall they will be a different team than the Boys have faced previously.

The Cyclones will have some decisions to make as far as Their roster goes. Chuck added two more college kids, Josh Heidinger and Will Ortiz,  for Saturdays game at Wheeling which I think raises some questions about the health of a few players. Since we are rolling into the Playoffs I’m not going to name any names other than the players who I know to be out of the playoff picture as far as potential injuries go. The Cyclones roster currently has 23 names on it and Chuck gets to select 23 players (20 active, 3 inactive) to the playoff roster. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Dwayne Zinger will not be healthy enough to make the cut and Jamie Coghlan is a long shot. That opens up 2 spots in the line up. The Cyclones have 6 players on assignment in the AHL Reid Cashman, Mark Van Guilder and Chris Muller are in Milwaukee, Brett Motherwell  is in Bridgeport while Maxime Lacroix and Robert Mayer are in Hamilton.

Chuck only has 6 healthy defensemen on the roster right now so logic would indicate that at least Brett Motherwell or Reid Cashman will be on the roster, if not both. Adding them both would give Chuck 8 D-men to work with assuming both make it back.

I think the biggest questions are up front, eight D-men leaves room for 13 forwards. My guess is one of the new guys makes it, but not both. There could be some questions regarding health of a few guys and the status of both Lacroix’s and Van Guilders assignments in the AHL. Montreal and Hamilton have had another bout of injuries so Lacroix’s return could be questionable. Van Guiler will most likely be back but, again, it’s a question of when. The only name on the list that is probably out of the picture is Mueller. I’m sure Chuck is in close communication with both Hamilton and Milwaukee in regards to when we might see the players in question.

With the exception of the new guys I think everyone on the current roster should make the playoff roster unless injured. Unfortunately, I think the addition of 2 new players at this point indicates that there is an injury that will keep someone off the playoff roster, and/or either Van Guilder or Lacroix are not expected back.

-Mike-

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As I sit here typing up this latest entry I am also preparing to listen to John “The Hammer” Hamel call the last game the Boys will play at the Cambria War Memorial this season and probably the foreseeable future. It really is the end an era, for Johnstown and the ECHL. I was lucky enough to take a road trip to Johnstown during the 2008 Kelly Cup Championship Season; from pre-game beers and Baby Huey’s at Scotts by Dam (the taco’s are something else too)  to taking in a game at the fabled War Memorial, the city left quite an impression on me. I think taking in a game in Johnstown for any hockey fan, especially those with an affinity for the minor leagues. I was really hoping to make it back for one last hurrah but it didn’t work out. As Cyclones fans we know what it is like to lose our team so I hope to see hockey’s return to Cambria County sooner rather than later. Here is a link to a good article on hockey’s history and current situation in Johnstown.

The Boys now find themselves chasing the Division Title after giving up 2 points to Kalamazoo last night. Luckily, the ‘Clones have one more shot at the Wings, but they will still need some help from Toledo if they are to raise another Division Banner.

Last night’s game saw the return of Kevin Roeder and Matt Pierce. Both looked solid in their returns, Roeder had several good hits and Pierce was in and around the net. It’s good to see them back at this point to get a few games in before the Playoffs to shake the rust off.

In other news from last night, Curtis Sanford was injured during Hamilton’s game at Abbotsford. It will likely mean that Robert Mayer will be getting recalled. During the pre-game interview from Johnstown Chuck indicated the injury to Sanford was of the 7 to 10 day variety. The game in Abbotsford saw former Cyclone David Desharnais net 2 goals and included a rather humorous meltdown by Abbotford’s head coach.

It’s too early to guess at the playoff match-ups but it’s never too early speculate at the playoff roster which is due on April 5th. The ECHL hasn’t announced the rules for the 2010 playoff rosters yet but they haven’t changed the past few seasons so here is what we can expect:

Kelly Cup Playoff Roster
Requirements, Guidelines

April 6, 2009

PRINCETON, N.J. – Here are the roster requirements and guidelines for the Kelly Cup Playoffs as outlined in the 2008-09 Playing Manual issued to all ECHL coaches.

Amateur players who have completed a full season of college or junior hockey during the 2008-09 season can be named to a team’s playoff roster after their college or junior team has finished their season, including the playoffs.

For professional players who have played for any professional team in 2008-09 and former professional players to be named to a team’s playoff roster, they must have played (i.e. taken at least one shift) in five regular season ECHL games.

Former professional players who went back to full-time university status and regained amateur status shall be considered amateurs for the purpose of playoff eligibility and subject to the conditions of amateur players.

Players on two-way contracts with American Hockey League teams must have played (i.e. taken at least one shift) in five regular season AHL games in order to be named to a team’s playoff roster Veteran players on two-way contracts with AHL teams must have played (i.e. taken at least one shift) in 10 regular season AHL games. Players on two-way AHL contracts who are bought out or released from their contract during the season are still subject to the minimum playing requirement. Players on NHL contracts and one-way AHL contracts are exempt from the rule as are goaltenders. Each team is allowed two non-veteran players who are on two-way contracts with AHL teams that are exempt from the rule.

The League Office will decide any questions about eligibility and its ruling will be final.

ECHL teams must submit their Kelly Cup Playoff roster to the League Office by 3 p.m. ET on Monday.

The maximum number of players allowed on a playoff roster is 23. Playoff rosters will consist of a 20-man active roster and those players who are on injured reserve or recalled.

If in the event of injury, illness, recall or suspension by the League, a team is reduced to less than two goaltenders and 16 skaters, the team may sign amateur players under emergency conditions. Goaltenders that served as an emergency backup in the regular season may be used if they started out on the club’s roster as an emergency backup. Emergency backup goaltenders will not count toward the 23-man limit and may play at any time.

When the emergency conditions have ended the amateur player or goaltender must be removed from the roster.

Players who finish the regular season on injured reserve are eligible to play in the playoffs once their full injured reserve time has been completed. Players may be activated and placed on the team’s 20-man active roster with all roster guidelines (salary cap, veteran limits, etc.) in effect.

Players injured in the playoffs may be placed on injured reserve and replaced on the active roster with either a player whose injured reserve time has been fully served or a player who is returning from a recall. Players on injured reserve must remain with the member club unless otherwise approved by the League Office.

Players who are on recall to the NHL or the AHL at the playoff roster deadline that a team wishes to have eligible to play must be named to the 23-man playoff roster.

If a player is recalled off a team’s active roster during the playoffs, he may be moved to inactive status or replaced with a player whose injured reserve time has been completed or by a player returning from a recall.

Questions regarding playoff rosters are determined solely by the League Office.

Basically, Chuck gets to pick 23 total players, 20 active and 3 inactive. One point of note is that emergency back up goalies do not count towards the 23 man limit so the Cyclones could stick with Mayer and Smith and simply use Lee Lansdowne as a back up should Robert Mayer be on assignment in Hamilton when the Playoffs start.

The Cyclones’ roster currently sits at 23 with 2 goalies, 9 defensemen, and 12 forwards. However, Dwayne Zinger will most likely not be named to the playoff roster due to injury reasons and there is concern regarding Jamie Coghlan which reduces the roster total to 21. That leaves room for Max Lacroix and Brett Motherwell when they return from assignment in the AHL. Assuming there aren’t any injury concerns, I don’t see Chuck adding any Junior or College players late as he did last season with Felix Petit.

It should also be noted that Chris Mueller is playoff eligible for the ‘Clones but I highly doubt he’ll be named to our roster. The Milwaukee Coaching Staff loves the kid and named him to their Clear Day Roster over the likes of Ian McKenzie and Mark Van Guilder.

What you’re left with is a Playoff roster that doesn’t look any different than the current roster. With the way the team has played the past few games one could argue that some changes need to be made, however, I lean the other way and going into the playoffs there is quite a bit that can be said in favor of having familiarity with your teammates.

-Mike-

The AHL officially released the Clear Day Rosters today. According to the AHL regulations only players listed on Clear Day Rosters can play for the remainder of the AHL season and Calder Cup Playoffs unless call-ups, injuries or suspensions create an emergency situation. The roster also include a Residency List which contains the players which can play if the 22 man roster loses 3 players to any combination of injury, call-up and suspension.

Milwaukee Admirals:

Forwards:

Triston Grant, Ben Guite, Hugh Jessiman, Chris Mueller, Marty Murray, Wacey Rabbit, Mark Santorelli, Mike Santorelli, Dave Scatchard, Nick SpalingAndreas, Thuresson, Colin Wilson

Defense:

Jon Blum, Robert Dietrich, Scott Ford, Cody Franson, Teemu Laakso, Mark Matheson, Alexander Sulzer, Nolan Yonkman

Goalies:

Mark Dekanich, Chet Pickard

In Residence:

Reid Cashman (D), Dylan Hunter (RW), Ryan Maki (RW)

Hamilton Bulldogs

Forwards:

David Desharnais, Mike Glumac, Ben Maxwell, Eric Neilson, Max Pacioretty, Aaron Palushaj, Tom Pyatt, Ryan Russell, Grant Stevenson, Brock Trotter, Ryan White and J.T. Wyman

Defense:

Shawn Belle, Andre Benoit, Mathieu Carle, Alex Henry, Frederic St. Denis, P.K. Subban, Mike Vernace and Yannick Weber

Goalies:

Cedrick Desjardins and Curtis Sanford

In Residence:

Chad Anderson, Andrew Conboy, Olivier Fortier, Maxime Lacroix and Dany Masse

So that’s how it works and there are the rosters. What does it all mean for the Cyclones? First, we have to look at the players not included on the rosters, which are Ian McKenzie, Mark Van Guilder, Reid Cashman and Maxime Lacroix; Cashman and Lacroix are on their respective teams residence lists however. Since they are not on rosters or listed in residence, Mckenzie and Van Guilder will remain on assignment with Cincinnati for the remainder of the Season, unless Chuck can work some of his relocation magic. Although relocating either McKenzie or Van Guilder is unlikely. Cashman and Lacroix will most likely be back at some point, it’s just a matter of when. Both organizations are dealing with some injuries and call-ups right now so I don’t think we’ll see either play back in the immediate future. Odds are we’ll see Lacroix before Cashman since Cashman isthe only D-man on Milwaukee’s Residency list whereas Hamilton has several forwards who rank above him on the depth chart in Residency. Regardless, I doubt we’ll see either of them unless their clubs have their full rosters available to them.

I also want to mention that Chris Mueller IS on Milwaukee’s roster and Brett Motherwell is NOT on Bridgeports roster (I can not find the Sound Tigers Residency List).

The Cyclones Roster sits at 20 (10 forwards, 8 defensemen and 2 goalies). Three of those players, Krantz, Roeder, and Zinger are on long term IR. Krantz should be back very soon, Roeder probably won’t be too much longer but Zinger is most likely done for the year. That would put the Squad at 19 active players. Teams can essentially carry 22 players, 20 active with 2 on short term IR. With no guarantee of when Lacroix or Cashman may return, I would have to guess that Chuck would like to add some bodies to the line up for the stretch. Whether he will do that via trades in the next 24 hours or if it will be Junior or College players remains to be seen. Stay tunes.

I’ve received some questions regarding the trade with Bakersfield and I’ve been milling it over in my head. First, there is the question of what the future considerations are, they could be cash or a player to be named later. If it’s cash the deal is most likely done. If it’s a player there are windows as to when a player can be acquired. I’m not positive on this but if the ‘Clones do not receive a player before the trade deadline then I believe a player transaction would have to wait until the end of the Season. I would like to believe that this is some gamesmanship on Chuck’s part but the player that seems to be getting a lot of mention from a fans perspective, Mathieu Aubin, has been playing for the Condors the past few nights. It’s looking like the deal may have simply been to create some roster space for returning players, but then again, based on the roster numbers the Team doesn’t need the space. I can think of reasons of why players like Voakes and Marchesi would be expendable, but I can come up with just as many reasons to keep them. At this point, all I can say is that move has me a little confused, but I’m not about to question Chuck. It seems like he always has something up his sleeve and puts the team in the best position to win.

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow at 5.

-Mike-

– The Cyclones wrapped up their Southern road trip with a 2-2 record. The Boys took one game from Charlotte, played to a split with South Carolina and dropped the match up with Gwinnett. The .500 record isn’t bad but it’s not the 3-1 I was hoping for. The loss to Gwinnett is especially painful after dropping the 2nd game at South Carolina. The Cyclones now have just one game in hand on the Stingrays while trailing them by 3 points. The Cyclones are going to need some help if a Conference title is in Their future.  Luckily for the Cyclones a tie in points will play into the Cyclones hands since the ‘Clones hold the advantage in head to head match ups.

– Unfortunately for the ‘Clones, while They were battling to a .500 record down South, the Kalamazoo K-wings have been rolling. The Cyclones still lead the Division but the K-wings have closed to within 3 points with 3 games in hand. Reaching the playoffs shouldn’t be a problem for the Boys, but they can’t afford to take any nights off down the stretch if they plan on capturing the Division and Conference titles.

– Congratulations to Patrick Prokop for tallying his 1st goal as a professional Monday night at Gwinnett. If only it had been in a winning effort.

– When the Cyclones got back to Cincinnati, Mark Voakes and Scott Marchesi barely had enough time to do their laundry before packing for Bakersfield. The Cyclones received “future considerations” in the the deal. It comes to no surprise that a defensemen was dealt; Marchesi is a solid and serviceable D-man, but the Cyclones have an overstock of D-men and with Krantz and Roeder due back soon there will be quite the competition for D spots on the playoff roster. Voakes is quite the offensive weapon and his defensive play has improved. I’m sad to see him go, but he’s been injured much of the season and the Team had been playing well in his absence but regardless of Voakes’ potential he’ll have a “what if” hanging over his head. Moreover, you have to give up someone good to get someone good as Chuck always says.

That leads me to those “future considerations” we all love so much. It seems to me that Voakes is a bit much to give up if Chuck is just creating some roster space and getting cash back. It is possible, but I have to think there will be a player coming from Bakersfield at some point. That thought had me taking a look at Bakersfield’s roster. The name that jumps out at me is, of course, Mathieu Aubin. Aubin, a part of the 2008 Kelly Cup Squad made the move out wast to start the season and I think he would make a great addition to this years team. Mathieu may not be the most fleet of foot player out there but he is good along the wall and more importantly in front of the net, not to mention he has pretty good hands. I love the energy that Morehouse brings and he is certainly has no issue playing in the dirty areas of the ice but he lacks the finishing touch that someone like Aubin would bring. Will he be involved in the deal? Time will tell. I would certainly like to to see him back in a Cyclones sweater…

– The ECHL trade deadline is just days away at this point so the question remains if Chuck will make any other moves. My guess is we’ll know more tomorrow once the AHL announces the Clear Day Rosters.  Early word out of Milwaukee is that Ian Mckenzie, Mark Van Guilder and Reid Cashman will not make the Admirals list (also left off the list was Ryan Maki, who played for the Kelly Cup Championship Squad. I’m not sure the status of his contract or whether of not he can be assigned here.) Chris Mueller is speculated to make the Admirals Clear Day Roster which is great for him and not so great for us. None of this is final until the AHL officailly releases the rosters tomorrow but it is possible that moving Voakes and Marchesi was just to make room for McKenzie, Van Guilder and Cashman but I’m going to keep my fingers crossed about that Mathieu Aubin. I’ll update tomorrow with the official Clear Day Rosters for Milwaukee and Hamilton.

– Things seem to be going pretty well in Bridgeport for Brett Motherwell. The ECHL posted a nice article on him. Here’s a link to the full article from ctpost.com.

-Mike-

As we head into another busy week for the Cyclones here are a couple bits of information I learned at the Coach’s Show last night.

– Don’t get me wrong, I liked Justin Johnson last season, but I don’t think he compares to Hans Benson. Benson was a guest at the Coach’s Show and just after a few minutes of listening to him, it become apparent that he is the consummate teammate. I liked Justin on the ice, but there were times that it seemed that Justin was more about him than the team. Benson, on the other hand, when asked about his offensive production, which is better than any any of his previous seasons, he didn’t say more than a few words before thanking Chuck for giving him a chance to actually play hockey. He also spoke about how tight knit the team is. When asked about fighting he responded that while it’s a big part of his game to stick up for his teammates he gave a props to Chris Morehouse, who “brings it every night,” as well as Dustin Sproat and Brett Motherwell. Sometimes you hear players talk in a similar manner but you can tell it’s lipservce, but with Benson it seems truly sincere. I guess you had to be there; those that were know what I’m talking about.

– As has been reported, the Cyclones have officially completed the trade with Gwinnett, in return for Mike Mclean the Cyclones have received defenseman Scott Marchesi. Marchesi is a second year player who was solid enough to receive an emergency call up to the AHL last season. His numbers are decent for a d-man. He is -7 on the season, but on a team whose best active player is +2, that isn’t bad at all. Scott will be a welcome addition to the Team’s depleted D-core.

– Speaking of that depleted D-core, here is where it stands. The beaten and battered are Kevin Roeder, Doug Krantz and Dwayne Zinger. Jason Jozsa and Reid Cashman are on assignment in Milwaukee. The leaves the Team with Brett Motherwell, Brock Sheahan, Jamie Coghlan, Brian O’Hanely, Pratrik Prokop and Scott Marchesi. As far as the injuries go, Roeder is expected to be out until sometime in March, Krantz finally had surgery and will miss the next 6 to 8 weeks and Zinger, also underwent surgery and will miss the next 8 to 12 weeks. Cashman has played well enough in Milwaukee to earn a regular spot in the Admirals line up so I wouldn’t expect him back any time soon. Jason Jozsa did get to play over the weekend but for the most part has been McElroy’d as the Admirals 7th defenseman. According to Chuck, due to one of the Admirals’ D-men going to the Olympics for Germany, Jozsa will most likely remain in Milwaukee through the Olympics. The upside is the potential that Jason could pick up the 3 more games needed to make him playoff eligible for the Cyclones.

– Dwayne Zinger underwent surgery for an injury that has effected his play since sometime in November. I have loads of respect for guys that play through injuries so this is the time that I offer my apologies to Dwayne for being so critical and throwing him under the bus. Sorry Dwayne, I wish you a speedy recovery. Your knowledge and leadership is no doubt important and valued in the locker room. I hope this is not season ending and you can come back healthy and show us what you’re really capable of. Thank you for your efforts and again, sorry for all of my criticism.

– I asked Chuck about the status of Adam Henrich and he confirmed what has been reported on eliteprospects.com. Adam received and excepted an offer to play in Germany’s Elite League for the Hamburg Freezers. The League has many former NHLers and could be a solid resume builder for Adam, who was a 2nd round NHL draft pick but has struggled to stick at the AHL level.  According to Chuck, Adam received a pretty substantial contract. Henrich was suspended by the Team in December when he left the Squad to return home to deal with some personal issues. Chuck could have blocked Adam from the move, but instead allowed him to take the deal. It’s just another reason why players like to play for Chuck; he won’t stand in a players way as they try to advance their careers or do what is needed to support their families. I wish it had worked out differently here in Cincinnati for Adam, he’s a talented player and I wish him the best in Germany.

– When the Cyclones head to Kalamazoo this Friday the K-wings will be without the services for Daryl Bootland. Daryl was was suspended by the team and has hopped the pond to play for Austria’s Vienna Capitals.

-Mike-

It’s the All Star break, and while Matt Pierce, Jeremy Smith and Bob Case are out in Ontario, California representing the Cyclones during the ECHL All Star events, I thought I’d dive deeper into a few of the passing thoughts I’ve had in earlier entries.

Before I get too far there is a little house keeping. First, all of the ECHL All Star Events can be seen on the B2 Networks. The Skills Competition will air on Tuesday (1/19/10) at 7pm Pacific Time and the puck drops on the All Star Game on Wednesday (1/20/10) at 7pm Pacific Time as well. Both events will be aired free of charge at B2TV.com .Oh and check your DirecTV and Dish Network channels because you might be able to catch the Game there as well if you have the right package.  Secondly, in case you haven’t heard by now, Dustin Sproat and Mike Mclean have been sent back to Cincinnati. Hopefully the All Star Break will allow the guys to recharge from what, according to Dustin’s Twitter, was a fairly involved travel schedule back to Cincinnati.

And now, the rest of the story…

Chuck Weber has a saying that goes something like this… if the special team’s percentages add up to 110 then they are going to win games, around 105 and they’re doing O.K. and less than 100, well let’s just say it’s not good… The Cyclones currently sit at 98.4. While the Penalty Kill, which started the season on fire has dipped a bit lately (83.2% which is 6th in the League allowing 30 goals on 179 opportunities, but also leads the League in short handed goals with 12) most of the blame falls to the Power Play Unit which is 18th in the League having scored just 35 goals on 230 opportunities for a scant conversion rate of 15.2%.

Coach Weber incorporates different systems for the PK depending on who he has on the ice. As we saw last year, when the PK suffered mightily until we added the Fresno Three (Sproat, Coghlan and O’Hanely); having the proper personnel is key to Weber’s PK systems. When Sproat and Mclean were called up, Weber resorted to splitting up the top PK forward pair of Ehgoetz and Reynolds which allowed the PK to plug along and not be terrible. The PK should be able to improve with Sproat and Mclean returning to the line up. I don’t think the Power Play can be entirely chalked up to personnel however.

The Cyclones have had 230 man advantage opportunities, which leads the League, but have struggled scoring just 35 goals. The Power Play woes get compounded when you look at the Team’s regulation losses. The Cyclones currently have 14 regulation losses, 9 of which have been by 1 or 2 goals (the second goal being a late empty net goal). In those nine games the Cyclones Power Play has performed at a rather impotent clip, converting at just 12.3%. That’s just 8 goals in 65 chances. Imagine how different the standings might look had the Boys been able to convert and take at least a point out of a few of those games. That, however, will be another installment of CycWords.

So what gives?

Sure, the Cyclones lack a big shot from the point in the absence of Reid Cashman and Doug Krantz, but I don’t think that is entirely it. Scoring isn’t the responsibility of the point players; yes, it’s great when it happens, but at the point it’s all about holding the puck in the zone and making good puck decisions. After all it doesn’t matter how hard a shot it as long as it gets to the front of the net. Also, while the Cyclones roster lacks a player with truly creative puck skills to take over and dominate a Power Play, it is full of players that are skilled and are more than capable of creating out of the corner or off the half wall for themselves and their teammates.

The Cyclones point players do a good job with holding the zone and making good decisions and the forwards do an excellent job of finding seams to pass through. That is until the pressure comes. The Cyclones 5 on 4 struggles dealing with pressure against teams that skate well enough to take away space. The Boys do well getting the puck to the scoring areas against passive penalty kills and against teams that try to pressure but don’t skate well enough to do so consistently. When the pressure is on the Team struggles to get pucks out of corners or off of the half wall.  When the puck does get rotated to the point shots are taken hastily into the oppositions shin gaurds or the pressure is rotated along with the puck, both scenarios usually result in the the puck being cleared. Motherwell and O’Hanely seem to deal with the pressure fairly well and moving Ehgoetz to the blue line has helped but the goals still aren’t coming.

The answer as I stated in my last entry is not shooting at every opportunity. Sure, you won’t score on 100% of the shots you don’t take, but power plays are about patience and working for high percentage chances. There is no use in taking a power play shot from the point if there is no one around the front of the net screening the goalie or in position for a rebound. Additionally teams have been doing an excellent job of pressuring the points, taking away passing lanes and forcing the puck down the wall.

At any level of hockey a consistent power play involves 3 things, and really they are the same 3 things that successful 5 on 5 play is based on. First, quick, accurate puck movement. Secondly, player rotation and cycling to create mismatches, open space and odd man situations. And finally the ability to finish.

During 5 on 5 play as well as 5 on 4 play, the Cyclones manage the puck well with passing and cycling. Even when going against a high pressure PK the Boys look best when they cycle  almost as if They were playing even strength. It makes the opposition scramble and creates more open areas. However, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on the 5 on 3 Power Plays lately. The passing is out standing but it should be with the lack of any substantial movement of the players. If the players aren’t moving it makes life a bit easier for the penalty killers since they don’t have to move either. There has to be some sort of movement to open up shooting lanes or to create cross ice passing lanes for one timers. It can be as simple as the rotation of the puck side forward and point man, the rotation of the screen man with one of the other forwards down low, or rotating to more of an umbrella formation with a single point man at the center blue line with the other point man and one forward moving to the half wall. It doesn’t matter how they move really as long as there is some type of movement to force the penalty killers to move and open up their zone.

If there is one thing the Cyclones do succeed at it is generating shot scoring chances. I for one like the patience they show in generating high percentage chances with their Power Play; and they DO generate them; they just can’t seem to find the back of the net. I don’t think I’ve witnessed a team get as many unlucky bounces on the Power Play as this years Squad as rebounds bounce past them on the wrong side and goalies make unbelievable toe saves; it’s enough to make any team press and feel like the Hockey Gods are out to get them. Early on even I played it off as bad luck stating that at some point things would “click” and the goals would come but they haven’t, at least not with enough consistency. It’s one thing to go through a game and get unlucky bounces, but at this point, it can no longer be dismissed as chance.

Could things be turning around? Jimmy Kilpatrick now as 3 goals in 3 games; all 3 have been Power Play goals. Perhaps, he is the spark the Power Play has been searching for. Only time will tell. One thing is for certain, with the number of close games the Cyclones have been involved in so far this season, there is no reason the ‘Clones can’t run away with the Division and possibly provide the home fans with a few pulled pork sandwiches, if They can find the consistency from the Power Play the will no doubt be needed to make a deep playoff run.

-Mike-

The Cylones went 1-2 in their first 3 in 3 of the season, putting them at 5-4 on the year. Personally I was hoping for 2-1 with a split with Toledo, but with the disappointing loss to Johnstown on Thursday, I wasn’t optimistic.

The ‘Clones started slow against Johnstown, but showed plenty of resiliency battling back to start the 3rd knotted at 3. That kind of resiliency is something I like seeing this early in the year; under Coach Weber the Cyclones have never gotten off to blazing starts, so seeing them battle back like they did should be a good sign of things to come.

Dannielle, covered Friday’s performance in a previous post, so I won’t spend much time on it other than saying if that effort in front of almost 11,000 fans doesn’t create some new fans, I don’t know what more the Team and Management can do…and yes the Throwback sweaters were sweet.

Saturday night saw the Boys make their first trip of the Toledo’s brand spanking new Lucas County Arena. I didn’t make the trip, but all reports are that the facility is first rate, but at the end of the day, it’s still in Toledo. I watched the game via the B2 and I must say, Toledo’s video production is first rate; almost like watching an NHL game on FSN or Versus.

On to the game. I was a bit surprised to see Coach Weber go with Jeremy Smith in net after Robert Mayer’s performance on Friday. Perhaps Coach was reluctant to go with the young Czech in back to back games, I’ll try to find out more tonight at the Coach’s show. Regardless, the script was similar to Thursday, either the ‘Clones came out slow, or Toledo came out on fire and stormed to a 2-0 lead. Again with some early season resiliency, the Cyclones battled back continually throughout the game to tie the score, but just couldn’t score the go ahead goal.

some quick notes:

– I love the early season resiliency, but it is a little disappointing not to force games like Thursday and Saturday into overtime to at least earn a point.

-It will be interesting to see how the Cyclones 2 young goalies develop and mature. My early report on Smith: he makes most of his saves on sound positioning but if his technique breaks down he hasn’t shown the pure athleticism to recover and make the acrobatic type save. He also seems to fight a lot of shots off but if he makes some saves early and has confidence he can win a game on his own. My early report on Mayer: He has great athleticism; what he lacks in positional play he makes up in quickness which is good since he gives up some juicy rebounds at times. I should also add that anytime either of them leave the net to play the puck it can be an adventure.

-If you missed Dustin Sproat’s break away goal Saturday night you missed a top shelf, water bottle popping back hand of beauty. It went into the books as an unassisted goal, but everyone that saw it knows he should have been awarded an assist to himself.

-Glad to see Barrett Ehgoetz back.

-The Cyclones bid adieu to Jon Landry in a trade with the Ontario Reign making Adam Henrich the newest Cyclone. Henrich has bounced around the ECHL and has plenty of AHL experience. He was in the lineup Thursday night and for a guy that had spent most of the previous 24hours on a plane, I was impressed with what I saw; listed at 6’4″ 225 he’s a big guy and played accordingly.

-Justin White was released.

New acquisition Brett Motherwell tallied his first goal of the season Saturday night. Motherwell has more AHL than ECHL games under his belt, and had been playing in Europe to start the season. The kid has put up some pretty good numbers from the blue line and his presence should jump start the powerplay.

-The ‘Clones PK finally broke giving up 3 goals to Toledo. We all knew it was going to happen sometime but allowing Toledo to go 3/5 on the PP after shutting them out the previous night had to have Coach Weber pulling his hair out. On the bright side, the Cyclones still lead the league killing off 36 of 39 short handed situations.

-Mike-