Posts Tagged ‘toledo walleye’

If you’re a Cyclones’ fan the internet has been a place of doom and gloom over the past few weeks; player call ups and some lethargic play has had people thinking the worst. The last time we checked though, we saw the sky wasn’t falling, it was just rain, and as that little ginger orphan girl once sang, “the sun will come out tomorrow…” Well, it looks like the sun did come back out this past weekend as the Cyclones posted 2 big character building road wins against Greenville and Gwinnett. On paper things didn’t look good for the ‘Clones as they headed South without defensive anchor Chris Reed, and forwards Michael Pelech and Mathieu Aubin. Indeed, the Boys would fall behind but post 3rd period comebacks to pull 4 points out of the weekend. Here’s a quick side note regarding the Greenville game; Road Warriors head coach Dean Stork sent out his resident goon, Sean Berkstresser, as his final shooter in the shoot out, he does realize the shooter isn’t allowed to elbow the goalie in the head before shooting right?

The weekends’ wins keep the ‘Clones 4 points ahead of Toledo and 8 points clear of Fort Wayne in the North Division. They also, bring up and interesting talking point; the Team slumped coming out of the All Star break posting a 2-4 record despite having one of the most reinforced lineups they’ve had in some time. Fast forward to the trip South on the weekend and the Cyclones, with a roster weakened by call ups, play 2 very solid games. Did they coast through those games after the break thinking a talent filled lineup would see them through? Regardless of what the answer is, the results over the weekend, in the face of adversity, show the true character of this years team. In the ECHL, call ups happen and rosters change, but good teams find ways to win. That’s what the Boys did over the weekend.

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We know you’ve been waiting for it and here it is, the Cyclones have a magic number of 33. If you’re not familiar with how magic numbers work, here’s the deal, the number will decrease by 2 every time the Cyclones win and/0r the 9th place team (based on maximum points available) loses, and by 1 if the ‘Clones lose in OT/SO and/or the 9th place team loses in OT/SO. When the number is 0, the ‘Clones are in.

Since, Reading is the only team in the Eastern Conference that’s managed to create any separation from the field and with just 9 points separating 4th place Greenville (which actually has more points than the ‘Clones) and 9th place South Carolina, staying on top of the North Division is key to avoiding the dog fight for a playoff position. The Cyclones’ magic number to clinch the North Division is 43. The same rules apply to this number except rather than decreasing when the 9th place team loses, it decreases when the 2nd place team loses, which is currently Toledo.

The Cyclones have 22 games remaining so they do hold Their playoff future in Their own hands, but let’s face it, those are big numbers for this point in the season, so there’s no time to take a night off. What will it take to get in? Based on history 80pts should be good enough to get in, 75pts is questionable, and less than 75pts and you get an early tee time. If the Cyclones can manage .500 over their remaining games, they should be safely playing in April. What will it take to win the North Division? It’s hard to put a point total on it but 14 wins over the last 22 will put the Boys at 90 points which should do it, and that means maintaining Their current .620 point percentage.

Looking at the rest of the Conference, Evansville and Trenton are all but dead in the water, but the Cyclones still have 3 games left against each and They can’t afford to be complacent in those match-ups. Orlando isn’t far from having their bubble burst, they need to string some wins together in a hurry if they want to battle for the 8th playoff position. Wheeling and Kalamazoo are in a similar situation, a few more losses and both will get some extra nights to spend at their local casinos. That leaves the South Carolina Stingrays, they’ve got the best chance of all the teams on the outside. They’re tied with 8th place Fort Wayne, have played 2 more games at this point. On a personal note, we’re pulling for South Carolina here at CycWords, simply because we’d love to see the fan and media backlash that would occur in Fort Wayne if the Komets didn’t make the playoffs.

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So there you have it, the latest edition of CycWords. Teams slump sometimes, but it’s no reason to watch every episode of Doomsday Preppers on Netflix. it’s how they react in the face of adversity and the Cyclones have done just fine throughout the season. It will be a dog fight but there’s no reason to think the Boys won’t be playing hockey in April.

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If you didn’t have the chance to watch or listen, let us tell you it was quite the game. You can read all the details here. The Cyclones rode rookie Cory Conacher all the way to the win, but the play of the game was made by referee Curtis Marouelli.

Late in the game and down by a goal head Fisherman Nick Vitucci pulled his goal with over 2 minutes to play. It lead to a scrum in the low slot with the puck finding the back of the net. Marouelli instantly held both hands in the air indicating the play had been blown dead. The replay from AmericaOne clearly showed the puck loose in front and going into the net. Fortunately for the Cyclones, the replay also clearly showed Marouelli bringing his whistle up with the intent to blow the play dead before the puck crossed the goal line. The key phrase here is “the intent to blow the whistle.” While players are always taught to play to the whistle, the rule book says the play ends when the referee decides to blow the whistle, not when it actually blows. It was the one break the Cyclones would get from the referee who whistled the Boys for 6 minor penalties (several of which were questionable calls to say the least) throughout the game compared to Toledo’s two. It was a rough game for the ref who spent most of the afternoon out of position and chasing the play. Ironically, if Marouelli had been out of position on the play the goal probably would have been good. Luckily for the ‘Clones, Marouelli was in position behind, and slightly to the right of Foster’s net and when he lost sight of the puck he blew the whistle as he’s supposed to.

It’s tough call to lose on if you’re a Fish fan but ultimately it was by the book. And when the referee gives you 6 chances to capitalize on the man advantage and you don’t, it you little to complain about.

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Looking forward here’s what the standings look like:

The Cyclones now find themselves legitimately in the 8th and final playoff position and more or less control their own destiny. If the Boys can earn 3 points in their final 2 games with Kalamazoo They’re in regardless of what Toledo does in their final 3 games. All the pressure is on the Fish at this point.

The magic numbers are:

Greenville – Clinched 3/19

Reading – Clinched 3/19

Kalamazoo – Clinched 3/20

Florida – Clinched 3/27 with Cyclones’ win over Toledo

Wheeling – Clinched 3/27 with Cyclones’ win over Toledo

South Carolina – Clinched 3/27 with Cyclones’ win over Toledo and OT loss to Greenville

Elmira – 3

Cincinnati – 3

The tragic:

Trenton – Eliminated 3/20, We like it better when you were the Titans anyhow.

Gwinnett – Eliminated by the Cyclones’ win and their loss to reading. It was a good fight but Caesar gave them a “thumbs down”

Toledo – 3

It a 3 horse race for the final 2 playoff spots and Toledo is the long shot right now. The crazy part is, outside of the top 3 places the rest of the Eastern Conference is separated by just 2 points. It’s still possible for the Cyclones to finish as high as 4th in the Conference believe it or not.

Until the next big game which is Wednesday morning….

-Mike-

About a month ago I suggested the Cyclones would need to win about 60% of Their games from here on out and getting to .500 by the All Star break would be a good start. Well, the All Star break has come and gone, the Cyclones sit at .500 (17-17-7, 41pts) which is good enough for 8th in the Conference. The downside is that They are in a playoff position technically but are really on the outside looking in. The 2 teams chasing the Cyclones are the Kalamazoo Wings (40pts) and the Toledo Walleye (39pts), both of which have 2 games in hand on the Cyclones.

To make matters worse, it wasn’t that long ago when the Cyclones had 3 game series with Division leading Wheeling which could have flipped the standings. Instead the Cyclones won just 1 of the 3 games getting out scored 15 to 7 in the process.

The Cyclones have 31 games remaining, in order to reach the 75+ points which will probably be required to make the playoffs They will have to earn roughly 40pts. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.

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It wouldn’t be a season…if the Cyclones didn’t play the South Carolina Stingrays at some point. That’s exactly what the Cyclones will get this weekend as the ‘Rays come to town for a 3 game series. The rivalry, which dates back to the 07-08 season, usually takes place in the post season but with the post season in question for the Cyclones, the series will be a good test for the Cyclones moxie. The Sting Rays currently sit in 5th place in the Conference, 11 points clear of the Cyclones.

Lip Service…If you attend the Cyclones Coach’s Show or listen to Nick Brunker’s pregame segments you’ve heard things like “we’re built to win close games,” and “when we come out strong and make things difficult…” come from the Coach’s and players’ mouths. The problem is, all to often the Cyclones give up early goals and play soft in Their own zone and the game is out of reach. Until there is a hard effort on a consistent basis for 60 minutes They will continue to struggle.

Roster Changes…Over the past few games the Cyclones have seen a few new faces join the line up. First, Chase Watson came over in a trade from Trenton. Then David Sloane finally rejoined the team after spending the bulk of the season on IR. Also, in the midst of call ups and suspensions Jon Higgins and Tyler Fletcher joined the squad.

Watson, who was acquired from Trenton for the dreaded future consideration has performed admirably in his 1st 3 games with the Club posting 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points.

Sloane, who spent most of the season on IR was a guy that CycWords had high hopes for. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to expectations and has since been released.

Higgins and Fletcher where both called up from Knoxville of the SPHL mostly to fill ins. Both were serviceable but have since been released.

Speaking of call ups…Dylan Hunter has been up in Milwaukee for some time and I don’t think he’ll be back anytime soon. With Jamie Lundmark leaving the Nashville organization for Europe there should be a semi permanent spot in the Admirals line up for Hunter.

Cyclones All Star Brian O’Hanley spent some time in Rochester prior to the ECHL All Star break where he notched his first AHL goal.

Former Cyclone Chris Mueller made his NHL debut shortly after we put him on out Christmas list. He tallied his 1st NHL point January 16th against the Chicago Blackhawks. He notched 2 more on the 18th in helping JP Dumont log a hat trick.

Catching up the success of current and former Cyclones wouldn’t be complete with mentioning David Desharnais and Cedrick Desjardins. Desharnais tallied his 1st NHL goal on January 12th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Desjardins was called up to Tampa Bay over Christmas, mostly to get some NHL level practice in. When Tampa’s back up goalie was injured it opened the door for Cedrick to dress for the Lightning. Ceddy would ultimately play in back to back games, winning them both. His 1st NHL win came against the Montreal Canadiens.

2 Return…When the Cyclones take the ice tonight against the Sting Rays They will have the services of Ryan Del Monte and Adam Comrie. Del Monte returns after playing 15 games with Worchester. His grittiness is something the Cyclones could really use right now. Adam Comrie, returns from a brief call up to Rochester.

There could be more help on the way…Nashville has reassigned Chris Muller and Matt Halischuk to Milwaukee. The Preds are inactive until after the NHL All Star break so this is most likely a short term assignment. However, if it is long term it could send someone out way. We’ll keep and eye on it and report if we hear anything further.

 

-Mike-

The Cyclones season to this point has had it’s testing points and for the most part the team has passed. The 1st dates circled on the calendar were November 13th and 14th, the 1st meetings with Kalamazoo. That was a rocky weekend but after that the Boys found the K-wings number and have gone on to dominate the series at this point. Next up was a date with Toledo. Initially things looked well, but Cyclones can’t seem to get past the Walleye on a consistent basis.

With mid November in the past, the next dates I had circled were December 4th and 5th, when Malcolm Cameron’s Florida Everblades came to town. Coach Cameron has been known to put extremely talented teams together, but the Cyclones proved what they were made of taking both games from a team that was probably an early season pick to win their conference.  From there things would return to normal with the Boys getting a heavy dose of the North Division.

That brings us the next set of tests to challenge the Boys. On Wednesday night the Cyclones had a solid 4-1 win against the South Divisions Charlotte Checkers. The Boys got on the board early and often, eventually chasing Checker’s starting goalie Ryan Munce from the net. After the goalie switch the game tightened up a bit and the Cyclones could only manage 1 additional goal. Charlotte was missing some key players and played a fairly passive and soft game, which was most likely dictated by their short bench. While the Cyclones offense could only manage 1 goal in the last two periods the defense played well; limiting the the Charlotte scoring chances. I expect to see a different game out of Charlotte when they return in late February.

That leaves us with South Carolina, who the Cyclones will play twice within a week. The past two seasons the Cyclones and the Stingrays have met in the Conference Finals with the Winner going on to become the eventual Kelly Cup Champion. Last season the Stingrays ousted a beaten, battered and bruised Cyclones Squad from the 08-09 Kelly Cup Playoffs and have kept the momentum rolling into this season. They jumped out to an early season Division and Conference lead, but they had played many more games so it was hard to judge exactly how good they were. As the season progressed it became more apparent that South Carolina was setting themselves up to be the team to beat. They are currently on top of the Conference with Cyclones, who have 4 games in hand, trailing them by 13 points.  South Carolina brings in the Leagues 10th best Power Play at 17.5% and the Leagues 6th best Penalty Kill at 83.6%. Much like the Cyclones, the Stingrays play with in the rules and don’t take a lot of penalties; it will be very important for the boys to take advantage of any man adavantage opportunities they get. The Stingrays lead the League in the “goals for” category while the Cyclones are amongst the Leagues stingiest when it comes to giving up goals. There is little doubt the Stingrays can score in bunches looking at the teams individual stats. The Stingrays line up boasts 9 players with point totals of 20 or higher, with 5 of those players posting 30 or more points. The Cyclones by comparison have just 5 players topping 20 points. The Cyclones do top the Stingray in 40+ point scorers with 2 to South Carolina’s 1.  It sets up an interesting match up to see which trend will take charge.

In other news…

– Where in the world is Bryan Leitch? I thought Michael Busto was becoming well traveled, but Leitch has left Busto in he lurch, joining his 5 team of the season. Bryan started the season with the Cyclones, was sent to Alaska, was then reassigned to Florida, then Kalamazoo and now finds himself with Toledo.

– Chuck has been busy, working to complete a deal sending Mike McLean to Gwinnett. McLean, who is under contract with Milwaukee, was recalled by the Admirals and then immediately assigned to Gwinnett. In return, the Cyclones receive “future considerations.” In a possibly related move, Gwinnett’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch recalled Chris Higgins, could he be headed our way? It’s purely speculation, but if he is, I doubt it will be announced until the last minute. I can’t say I’m surprised to see McLean get relocated. I was expecting big things from him this year, especially after seeing him perform well last season on a bad Dayton Bomber team. He had some good games this season, and posted 21 points but he was also -13 on the season. Scoring is great but becomes obsolete if you don’t take care of your own end; Thomas Bearegard anyone?

– According to the AHL transaction page Jason Jozsa has been recalled to Milwaukee, but according to ECHL’s Leaguestat page, he is active for the Cyclones. Jason was absent in the game against Charlotte, which forced Dwayne Zinger back into action. If Jason is still on recall with the Admirals, let’s hope he gets some ice time.

-It looked like the rest did Dwayne Zinger some good. He had one horrendous clearinf attempt that appeared to be more like pass to a Charlotte forward, but other than that played well.

– According to my count the suspension to Adam Henrich expired last week. I haven’t seen any other news regarding him. If nothing surfaces, I’ll try to get some information at the Coach’s Show on Monday.

-Mike-

Twenty-four hours after a lethargic looking Cyclones Squad took it on the chin from the Kalamazoo K-wings, the tables turned and the Boys took the K-wings down to the river and flogged them accordingly. The 6-1 victory saw both Jimmy Kilpatrick and Matt Pierce tally 2 goals apiece with Eghoetz and Sheahan adding the others. The win catapulted the Team back to the top spot in the North Division thanks to the 8-2 beat down the Elmira Jackals handed to the Toledo Walleye. A quick look at the schedule and standings shows the Cyclones leading the Walleye by 1 point and the K-wings by 2 points with the K-wings hosting the Walleye later on this afternoon. Let’s hope the K-wings have a little left in the tank and can beat the Walleye in regulation; a Kalamazoo regulation win keeps the Cyclones on top.

I said yesterday that when a Chuck Weber Cyclone’s team keeps their feet moving they can play with and beat anyone. That was the difference between Friday and Saturday nights. In my observation Kalamazoo played they same game they have played every time I’ve watched them. They are an aggressive team, applying pressure and attacking the game in transition. On Friday night the Boys didn’t keep their feet moving and it allowed the Kalamazoo pressure and attack to be incredibly effective. On Saturday night the Boys kept moving, beating the K-wings to and from open space; moving makes an aggressive team miss checks and ultimately forces them to chase the play rather than allowing their aggressiveness to dictate the play. The K-wings didn’t help themselves in offering the Cyclones 12 Power Play opportunities but that’s what happens to an aggressive team that finds themselves chasing the play; missed checks lead to hooks, holds, and other infractions.

– How different is the play of Ryan Nie when he has an early lead to work with than when he gives one up early? That’s exactly what happened between Friday and Saturday nights and it was like watching two different goalies.

– Jeremy Smith played a great game. It’s unfortunate that will all of the great saves he made that a fluttering wrist shot floated over his shoulder to foil his shut out bid.

–  Did anyone else notice how quick the Cyclones Defense looked last night? Oh yeah Dwayne Zinger was scratched.

– Chris Morehouse is everything Mitch Woods was supposed to be but wasn’t. He agitates, he goes to the dirty areas of the ice without fear, he sticks up for his teammates and he simply just works hard. Most importantly, he does it all without being a penalty magnet.

– Ian Mckenzie? I don’t recall hearing Ian being listed as a healthy scratch, but I could have missed it because I was applauding the move to scratch Dwayne Zinger. Ian is not listed on any of the transaction lists as of yet either. I sent a message to the guys that write the Admirals Short Shifts blog and they said that they believe McKenzie to be in Milwaukee but he has not been listed as a scratch for the Admirals either. Hmmmmm

– The Power Play looked much better scoring 3 goals on 12 chances. Jimmy Kilpatrick tallied 2 very nice PP markers and Barret Ehgoetz beat Nie, who was forced to move post to post, cleanly from the top of the circle through a partial screen. The puck movement and player rotations were much improved, especially on the 5 on 3.

– Cyclones fans got there first look at FNG Patrik Prokop. I have a rule when evaluation defensemen; defenseman get noticed for 2 primary reason: 1) scoring a goal (good) and 2) defensive failures that result in a goal (bad). Sure, d-men pitch in with assists, but they go largely unnoticed. And yes, d-men sometimes make spectacular plays to break up scoring chances, but isn’t that what they are supposed to do? If a d-man goes unnoticed during a game, then in my opinion, he played a good game. If he can go unnoticed in the defensive zone and add a goal like Sheahan did last night, or O’Hanely, Jozsa and yes, even Zinger, have in the past, then he had a great game. I’m not sure how many shifts Prokop had, I’m sure all the Power Play time cut into his ice time a bit, but he didn’t disappoint me. He didn’t make me jump out of my seat either, but for a rookie playing in just his 17th Professional game, he proved to be capable. Granted, he’s only played 2 games with the Cyclones, but so far I like what I see.

– The Cyclones sent the 6485 in attendance home happy with coupons for free Wendy’s Frostees and coupons for $5 off at City Barbeque. The victory was the 4th time the Cyclones have sent the fans home with BBQ, and it was the 2nd time it has been at the expense of the K-wings.

– The Boys take to the ice again on Monday when they take on a surging Johnstown Chiefs team.

-Mike-