Cyclones Game Preview: vs. Wheeling Nailers
Game 61 (Home Game 30)
Vs. Wheeling Nailers (28-25-6-2, 64 pts)
Friday - 7:35pm ET
U.S. Bank Arena - Cincinnati, OH
Overview: The Cyclones continue their five-game homestand on Friday night against the Wheeling Nailers. Cincinnati picked up a 5-4 win over the Ft. Wayne Komets on Wednesday night, extending their division lead to 19 points over the Toledo Walleye. They still maintain a two-point cushion over the Florida Everblades for first place in the ECHL overall.
Wednesday Night Recap: The Cincinnati Cyclones (43-10-4-3) earned a come-from-behind, 5-4 win over the Ft. Wayne Komets on Wednesday night. Forwards Jesse Schultz, Myles Powell, Mike Marnell, and Brady Vail, along with defenseman Kurt Gosselin netted the goals for Cincinnati, who overcame a three-goal, third period deficit to pick up the win. Cincinnati outshot Ft. Wayne, 35-20 on the evening, with goaltender Michael Houser stopping 16 in the win.
Sunday Afternoon Recap:The Cincinnati Cyclones (42-10-4-3) picked up a 4-3 shootout win over the Kansas City Mavericks on Sunday afternoon. Forward Judd Peterson led the way with a pair of goals, while defenseman Andrew DeBrincat netted once for the 'Clones in regulation. Forward Alex Wideman scored the lone goal in the shootout. The Team engaged in a physical affair as well, and the teams combined for 134 minutes in penalties, including four Game Misconducts. Cincinnati was outshot, 38-29 on the afternoon, with goaltender Michael Houser stopping 35 in the win.
Last Friday Night Recap: The Cincinnati Cyclones (41-10-4-3) collected a 4-2 win over the Indy Fuel on Friday night. Forwards Ben Johnson and Myles Powell, along with defensemen Eric Knodel and Devante Stephens netted the goals for the Cyclones. Cincinnati outshot the Fuel, 24-20 on the evening, with goaltender Michael Houser stopping 18 in the win.
Previewing Wheeling: The Nailers hold down the fifth spot in the ECHL's Central Division, two points back of the Kalamazoo Wings in fourth. Wheeling has been piling up the points as of late, going 5-3-1-1 in their last 10, and are coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the Indy Fuel on Tuesday. The Nailers enter Friday seventh in the League with 3.44 goals scored per game, and they also have the ECHL's fourth-best power play, converting on 20.7% of their chances. Their penalty kill is 20 thin the League at 80.7%, however Wheeling leads the ECHL with 18 shorthanded goals. They are led offensively by forward Zac Lynch who has accounted for 15 goals and 39 assists through 56 games played this season. He is followed by forward Yushiroh Hirano (16g, 33a) and Renars Krastenbergs (15g, 23a) who round out the top three. In goal, Jordan Ruby leads the way with a 11-6-1-0 record, along with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
Inside the Series: Friday will be the seventh of eight meetings on the season between the Cyclones and Nailers, with Cincinnati holding a 5-1-0-0 record through the first six games. The teams will meet once more this season on Wednesday, March 20.
Next Game Preview: Cincinnati welcomes in the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday night, in the finale of their 11-game season series. The Cyclones hold an 8-1-1-0 advantage through the first 10 games, and have outscored the Wings, 42-22, this season.
Home Sweet Home: The Cyclones are in the midst of a five-game homestand, and currently have the League's best home record at 24-1-2-2. Their one regulation loss is the fewest in the ECHL, and Cincinnati has a League-high 130 goals scored at home, as well as a League-low 61 goals allowed. The Cyclones have seen special teams success at home as well, ranking fourth at home on the power play at 19.7% (25/127), and sixth at home on the penalty kill at 85.1% (97/114).
Point Men: Forward Brady Vail is currently on a 10-game point streak, amassing seven goals and eight assists in that time, following a goal and an assist in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Ft. Wayne Komets. Forward Jesse Schultzhas accounted for points in 11 of his last 13 games, totaling six goals and 15 assists in that time, and he leads the ECHL in scoring with 71 points (19g, 52a). Forward Vas Glotov has points in 11 of his last 14 games, totaling six goal and 10 assists (6g, 10a), while forward Alex Wideman has accounted for seven goals and 10 assists in his last 17 games, and is second on the team with 20 goals and 36 assists. Finally, forward Pascal Aquin has points in five of his last eight games (3g, 5a) and is tied for fourth in League rookie scoring with 23 goals and 28 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 (71) and assists (52) and has also added 19 goals. Houser currently leads the League in wins with 25, fewest losses with five, goals-against average at 2.15, and is tied for fourth in save percentage at .921. He is 18-2-2 in his last 22 games, allowing two or fewer goals in 14 of them. 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 24 for their last 78 on the power play and now ranks 14th in the ECHL with a 17.2% conversion rate on the power play (44/258).
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 2.42 goals per 60 minutes and outscoring teams 240-145. Starting and finishing games have been a specialty for Cincinnati, as they have a League-leading 87 first period goals while only allowing 45, and have allowed 40 goals in the third period. Cincinnati is outscoring the opposition, 77-40, in the final 20 minutes of play, and are 30-1-0-2. 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. The Cyclones clinched their berth by virtue of the Wheeling Nailers losing to Ft. Wayne on Wednesday night. 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.
Knodel Named AMI Graphics ECHL Plus Performer of the Month: Cincinnati Cyclones defenseman Eric Knodel has been named the recipient of the AMI Graphics ECHL Plus Performer of the Month for February, after posting an on-ice rating of plus-16 through 13 games during the month. He joins forward Alex Wideman, who was co-recipient of the AMI"Graphics ECHL"Plus Performer of the Month in December. Knodel posted an even or better rating in 12 of his 13 games during the month, including pair or plus-four games- an 8-1 road win over the Maine Mariners on February 8, and a 5-4 overtime victory against Adirondack on February 17. He ranks second among ECHL"defensemen, and sixth overall in the league, with a plus-39 rating this season, and is also tied for second among blueliners with 15 goals and is also tied for second with 44 points.
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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