Posts Tagged ‘Taylor Ellington’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goal tenders (2):

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

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

Defense (8):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forwards (10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eligible List (6):

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

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

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

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

The holiday break has come and gone. We hope you had happy holiday, merry Christmas (or whatever suits your fancy), and a safe and happy New Year. If you didn’t, watch this little nugget from the Belfast Giants. Yes, it’s old and we’ve posted it before, but it never gets old. It never fails to make us laugh, even in the middle of July when the ice has long melted.

Now that the holiday well wishing is out of the way, let’s get on to more important business. As the ball dropped in New York City, the Cyclones found themselves sitting atop the North Division. The Toledo Walleye trailed the ‘Clones by 2 points and the Fort Wayne Komets trailed by 6. The Cyclones have 2 games in hand on Toledo and 1 on Fort Wayne. The Cyclones have amassed a 19-10-2 record and, according to this weeks press release, if they manage to win Their next game before February 3rd, it will be the fastest They’ve reached the 20 win mark since the 09-10 season and 3rd fastest in club history (we’ll give you one guess which year’s team did it the fastest).

The ‘Clones have to look no further than Their improved performance on the road. Last year’s Squad faltered to a 9-21-6 (24pts) on the road while this year’s Team already sits on 18pts and looks to notch Their 9th win this Friday in Fort Wayne. In fact, the 2012-2013 Cyclones have practically the same winning percentage on the road as they do at home. The overall improvement in Team defense has to play a large role in the consistency we’re seeing from the Cyclones this season.

The Cyclones are in an interesting situation, carrying 3 goalies on the roster; 1 journeyman and 2 prospects. All 3 are affiliated making it an interesting dilemma for Coach Skalde to balance the playing time. The journeyman Brian Foster (13-4-2, 2.39gaa, .914sv%) has proven to a more than capable workhorse and is clearly the go to guy for Coach Skalde. The kids have to play as they say and both Zoltan Hetenyi (3-4-0, 2.83gaa, .887sz%) and Michael Houser (2-1-0, 3.33gaa .907sv%) will need to get more than 1 game a month to stay in game shape. Luckily, the Cyclones schedule is back loaded and with the games stacking up it shouldn’t be too difficult to get to get all of them some games. If the Boys play as They’re capable we’re comfortable with any of the 3 in the pipes. At the end of the day though, it’s about winning games and Foster has the favor of Coach Skalde, so look for him to continue to carry the load.

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The last time the Cyclones skated on the ice US Bank arena They faced the Elmira Jackals. It was a game that, by the box score, looked rather close. The ‘Clones lead 1-0 to end the 1st period but the 2nd saw the Jackals take control of the middle of the ice, they scored 3 times, seizing momentum, and the Cyclones lost control of the game. It seemed like a script, the Cyclones lead early but the game slips away in the 2nd period, sometimes they manage to come back, some times the make it close but fall short. It made us want to take a look at 2nd periods to this point in the season to see if there’s something to it or if it’s all in our heads.

The key stat we took into account was 2nd period goal differential. We also looked at 2nd period shot differential. Shot totals can sometimes indicate the amount of puck possession a team has, but shot total accuracy varies from building to building around the league so take it for what it’s worth. What we found was an interesting trend. Over 31 games the ‘Clones are +2 during the 2nd period and are -12 on shots. However, in the losses the Cyclones are -13 in goal differential and -24 in shots.¬† So it does seem to be some substance to the thought that the 2nd period is where the game can slip away from the ‘Clones.

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The Cyclones have played in an abundance of close games this season so it’s natural we keep looking at the special teams play. The ‘Clones power play has crept up to 15.3 percent and while that’s not great it’s quite the improvement from where it was a few weeks prior. The power play has been steady as of late in the low 80’s. It’s currently at 82.9%, which ranks 10th in the League. It’s hard to find much to criticize about a team on top of Their division and winning 64.5% of Their games, but with the number of close games they’ve been involved in, it’s hard to think of where they’d be if the special teams (especially the power play) were even a few points more efficient.

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Coach Skalde has made a couple of player transactions of late. The 1st of which was cashing in the “future considerations” owed the Cyclones by Wheeling in return for Andrew Hotham. It was a 3 team deal that saw the ‘Clones acquire Andrew Conboy from Trenton. Yes, the same Andrew Conboy that earned a game misconduct for jumping Mathieu Aubin a frew months back. He’s always been a physical player, one could argue he borders on being a goon. He’s a big kid and needs to be physical to be effective. He certainly adds a physical element to the the Cyclones that is lacking with Mattias Lindstrom on reserve, and let’s face it, with the defensive roster looking a little thin right now the Boys can’t afford to lose David MacDonald for a 5 minute stretch and while we love seeing Garret Wilson throw his weight around we’d rather have him on the ice as well. Conboy is more than just a fighter and while he may not be a game changer offensively, he certainly isn’t a liability either. He’s a big body the ‘Clones can throw in front of the net; a game plan that already yielded a game wining goal for the Team in his debut. The question is can he keep is cool and avoid the “bad” penalties he’s been known for over the years.

The Cyclones will have a new face on the blueline tonight when they take the ice in Fort Wayne after sending Maury Edwards to Florida in return for Taylor Ellington. On paper it looks like the Cyclones got the better end of the deal swapping the undrafted Edwards for Ellington, Vancouver’s 2nd round pick in the 2007 draft. However, the 33rd over all pick in the 2007 draft has spent the bulk of his career in the ECHL, logging games for Victoria, Kalamazoo, Chicago and Florida; that’s not something you typically see from a player drafted in the 2nd round. He’s got good size for a defenseman at any level as well, so what’s the catch? His write up on hockeysfuture.com might help shed some light on it:

A reliable defender, Ellington has tremendous reach and begun to develop a mean streak in the defensive end of the rink. Ellington cites his strengths as: his first pass on breakouts and his decision-making in the defending zone. His puck skills have improved but still need some work, as does his skating.

Overall, we think Ellington will be an upgrade for the ‘Clones blueline. While Edwards had shown improvement over last season he was still mistake prone; and his mistakes weren’t typically small ones, they usually lead to the red light turning on behind a Cyclones goalie.

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Finally, it’s do or die time for the NHL. We’re not going to post link after link to what’s going between the League and Players Association. If you’re a reader of this blog you probably have an idea of where things stand and know next week is the deadline for getting a deal done and starting an abbreviated season on January 19th according to Commissioner Gary Bettman. If an 11th hour deal gets done expect some changes in the Cyclones roster. On the flipside, the Cyclones could see some new faces should the NHL season get cancelled. We aren’t going to speculate on who, but listen to the Coach’s Show from 12/17/12 and you’ll hear Coach Skalde mention that he’s had contact with a few NHL players about playing in Cincinnati during the lockout. However, with so many affiliated players and so few roster spots available for free agents, signing any would have been a risky move should the lockout end. However, with the cancellation of the NHL season a very real possibility, could Skalde pull the trigger and bring in some NHL talent?