Cyclones Game Preview: vs. Toledo Walleye
Game 64 (Home Game 33)
Vs. Toledo Walleye (35-19-5-3, 78 pts)
Thursday - 7:35pm ET
U.S. Bank Arena - Cincinnati, OH
Overview: The Cyclones wrap up their five-game homestand on Thursday night against the Toledo Walleye. Cincinnati is coming off a 4-1 win over the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday night, and as a result, earned the ECHL's Central Division title. The 'Clones also clinched the Western Conference's best record, and with it home ice for the first three rounds of the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club. The Cyclones still maintain a four-point lead over the Florida Everblades for the top spot in the ECHL overall.
Last Night Recap: The Cincinnati Cyclones (46-10-4-3) claimed the ECHL Central Division Title with a 4-1 win over the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday night. It marks the first divisional crown since the 2012-13 North Division title. Defenseman Kurt Gosselin led the way with a pair of goals, while forwards Jesse Schultz and Myles Powell netted lone goals for the Cyclones, who push their winning streak to six games. Cincinnati outshot the Nailers, 34-21 on the evening, with goaltender Ty Rimmer stopping 20 in the win.
Saturday Night Recap: The Cincinnati Cyclones (45-10-4-3) earned a 3-0 win over the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday night. Forwards Brady Vail and Mike Marnell, along with defenseman Eric Knodel netted the goals for the Cyclones, whole goaltender Michael Houser stopped all 28 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. Shots in the game were tied, 23-23, while the Cyclones penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3.
Friday Night Recap:The Cincinnati Cyclones (44-10-4-3) took down the Wheeling Nailers, 5-1, on Friday night. Forward Alex Wideman led the way with a pair of goals, while forwards Vas Glotov, Pascal Aquin, and Jesse Schultz netted lone tallies for the Cyclones, who extend their winning streak to four games. Cincinnati was outshot, 23-20 on the evening, with goaltender Ty Rimmer stopping 22 in his Cyclones debut.
Previewing Toledo: The Walleye have won two of their previous three games following a three-game skid, and are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday Night. Toledo is 4-5-1-0 in their last 10 games, and currently hold down the second spot in the ECHL's Central Division, seven points ahead of the Ft. Wayne Komets in third. The Walleye have seen a lot of success in close games this season, leading the League with 20 wins in one-goal games, along with three losses, five overtime losses and three shootout defeats. Offensively, they are fifth in the League with 3.44 goals scored per game, and fifth in shots at 32.98. Forward Shane Berschbach leads all active Walleye skaters with 57 points (18g, 39a) through 57 games. He is followed by defenseman Matt Register (12g, 34a) and forward Dylan Sadowy (21g, 21a) who round out the top three. In goal, Pat Nagle has appeared in 37 games, posting a 20-12-2-1 record along with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
Inside the Series: Thursday will mark the seventh of nine matchups this season between the Cyclones and Walleye, with the Cyclones posting a 4-1-1-0 record through the first six contests.
Next Game Preview: Cincinnati wraps up their five-game homestand on Thursday night against the Toledo Walleye. It will mark the seventh of nine matchups this season between the two, with the Cyclones posting a 4-1-1-0 record through the first six contests, outscoring Toledo 19-12 through the series.
Cyclones Earn Division Championship : By virtue of their 4-1 win over the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday, the Cyclones have clinched the ECHL's Central Division title. Cincinnati also locked up the top record in the Western Conference, and are guaranteed home ice advantage through the first three rounds of the Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club. Cincinnati last won a division title during the 2012-13 season, ultimately falling to the eventual Kelly Cup champion Reading Royals in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cyclones have won three division championships since returning to play in 2006-07 (2007-08, 2008-09, 2012-13), and have a pair of Kelly Cup championships in 2008 and 2010.
Making an Immediate Impact: Rookie defenseman Kurt Gosselin netted a pair of goals in Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Wheeling Nailers. Signed by the Cyclones last week, he netted his first pro goal, the game-winner, in his first pro game in last Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Ft. Wayne Komets, and added an assist in Saturday's 3-0 win over the Kalamazoo Wings. A native of Brighton, MI, Gosselin just completed a successful collegiate career at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. While with the Chargers, Gosselin appeared in118 career games, accounting for 20 goals and 38 assist, along with 173 minutes in penalties across four seasons.
Home Sweet Home: The Cyclones are in the midst of a five-game homestand, and currently have the League's best home record at 27-1-2-2. Their one regulation loss is the fewest in the ECHL, and Cincinnati has a League-high 142 goals scored at home, as well as a League-low 63 goals allowed. The Cyclones have seen special teams success at home as well, ranking third at home on the power play at 20.7% (29/140), and fifth at home on the penalty kill at 85.7% (102/119).
Point Men: Forward Brady Vail has found the score sheet in 11 of his last 13 games, accounting for eight goals and eight assists in that time, and is third on the Cyclones in scoring with 25 goals and 33 assists. Forward Jesse Schultz has accounted for points in 13 of his last 16 games, totaling eight goals and 18 assists in that time, and he leads the ECHL in scoring with 76 points (21g, 54a). Forward Vas Glotov has points in 12 of his last 17 games, totaling seven goals and 11 assists, while forward Alex Wideman has accounted for nine goals and 11 assists in his last 20 games, and is second on the team with 22 goals and 38 assists. Finally, forward Pascal Aquin has points in seven of his last 10 games (4g, 7a) and is fourth in League rookie scoring with 24 goals and 30 assists.
League Leaders: Cincinnati currently boasts a pair of League-leaders in forward Jesse Schultz and goaltender Michael Houser . Schultz currently paces the ECHL in both points (76) and assists (55) and has also added 21 goals. Houser currently leads the League in wins with 26, fewest losses with five, goals-against average at 2.08, and is for fourth in save percentage at .921. He is 19-2-2 in his last 22 games, allowing two or fewer goals in 14 of them and pitching a pair of shutouts. Houser was also named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for December after a perfect 6-0-0-0 record along with a 1.17 goals against average and a .950 save percentage.
Man Advantage: The Cyclones are 28 for their last 86 on the power play and now ranks 13th in the ECHL with a 17.8% conversion rate on the power play (49/275).
Good in All Areas: The Cyclones boast the League's top offense, averaging 4.00 goals per game, and the top defense, having allowed a miniscule 2.33 goals per 60 minutes and outscoring teams 252-147. Starting and finishing games have been a specialty for Cincinnati, as they have a League-leading 92 first period goals while only allowing 45, and have allowed 40 goals in the third period. Cincinnati is outscoring the opposition, 81-40, in the final 20 minutes of play, and are 33-1-0-2. when leading through two periods. They have given up more than three goals in regulation just nine times this season.
Cyclones Clinch Playoff Spot: The Cyclones are the first team to clinch a spot in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club. This will the 10th trip to the postseason for the Cyclones since the 2006-07 season, and the third berth in the last four seasons. Cincinnati has two Kelly Cup Championships to their credit; a 4 games to 2 series win over the Las Vegas Wranglers in 2008, and a 4 games to 1 victory over the Idaho Steelheads in 2010. The Cyclones made a third trip to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2014 where they lost to the Alaska Aces in six games.
Packed Schedule: The Cyclones are in the midst of a stretch of 29 games in 59 days. Cincinnati will play three games in three days on four separate occasions during that time, a pair of four-game-in-five-days stretches, two stretches of seven-games in 10 days, and one of 10 games in 17 days.
Welcome Matt Thomas: The Cyclones enter the 2018-19 season with a new head coach. In early August, Cincinnati hired Matt Thomas as the team's new bench boss. He replaced Matt Macdonald who was named assistant coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins; American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. A native of Maple Ridge, BC, Thomas has extensive head coaching experience in the ECHL, spanning 11 seasons with the Atlantic Boardwalk Bullies, Fresno Falcons, and Stockton Thunder from 2002-2013. Thomas served two seasons as an assistant coach with Atlantic City, including helping the Boardwalk Bullies to a Kelly Cup Championship in 2003, before assuming the role of head coach and Director of Hockey Operations with the team prior to 2004-2005. He compiled a 42-22-8 mark in his lone season as Atlantic City's bench boss, and served as the head coach for the 2005 ECHL All-Star Game. He then moved on to Fresno prior to the 2005-06 campaign, leading the Falcons to a 43-15-14 mark along with a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Over the next two seasons in Fresno, Thomas compiled a 76-41-17 record, with trips to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs on both occasions. He coached the Falcons during the first half of 2008-09, leading the team to an 18-10-2 mark before the team ceased operations midseason. Thomas was not out of work for long however, as he was named head coach of Stockton shortly after, and finished the year with a record of 22-16-3, and a trip to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Thomas went on to coach the Thunder for four more seasons, amassing a mark of 141-111-36, reaching the post season each year, including a trip to the 2013 Kelly Cup Finals. He enters the 2018-19 campaign as the ECHL's sixth-winningest coach with a career record of 342-225-80, just one win back of fifth place all time. He is also the all-time leader in playoff games coached with 97, and ranks third with 49 playoff wins.
The 2018-19 season is HERE, and the Cincinnati Cyclones want YOU along for the ride! Single game, Group, and Season Tickets are on sale NOW by calling (513) 421-PUCK! Stay on top of all the latest team updates and information on Facebook, Twitter (@CincyCyclones), and Instagram, along with our website, www.cycloneshockey.com!
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