CINCINNATI– The Cincinnati Cyclones (26-18-2-0) defeat the Tulsa Oilers (20-22-3-6) in a vicious battle on Friday night.
On the first night of Marvel Super Heroes Weekend, Cincinnati wore Captain America jerseys, while their opponent wore Ultron uniforms.
The Cyclones started the game strong with a goal less than three minutes into the opening frame. For his third goal of the year, Chris Leone shot a bullet from the red line that flew past the right side of Oilers goaltender, Devin Williams.
The first ten minutes of the game saw more goal-scoring action after Leone’s goal. Tulsa found itself trailing just 2:22 into the game when Williams allowed a shot from the red line into the net. Though he would make 13 additional saves before the period was over, the Oilers had to dig themselves out of a hole early. Not to be outdone, Justin Vaive put the home team one point ahead as he extended his active point streak with a goal at 9:23.
Proving to be a fiery period, as tempers flared and the Cyclones continued their tear. At 8:33, multiple players dropped the gloves behind the home team net. Rob De Fulviis paired up with Dylan Hubbs, and Brandon McNally danced with Dan DeSalvo. As the scrums were occurring nearby, Tulsa’s Kale Kessy shoved a referee who attempted to settle the angry forward who wanted a piece of his own. De Fulviis and Hubbs were given a fighting major, while McNally and DeSalvo received double-minors for roughing. Kessy was handed a 10-minute misconduct for his actions against the officiating crew.
While the five men sat for their penalties, the Cyclones took advantage of the energy on the ice, converting it into something positive as the home team added another goal to their lead. At 9:44, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda dished the puck back to a trailing Alex Kile who sends a laser to the back of the net.
Finishing off the second period scoring, Jesse Schultz carries a pass from Brycen Martin around the back of the Oilers net, dished the puck to Vaive who reared his stick back in anticipation. Vaive put a point-blank shot to the back of the net with six minutes remaining in the middle stanza.
Events from the second period had a way of carrying over into the third, as both teams remained hot on each other’s tails. At 1:35, Martin was brutally boarded in the back by Hubbs in the right corner of the Cyclones zone. Muzito-Bagenda quickly jumped to his teammate’s defense, dropping the gloves with his attacker. Thankfully, Martin was able to skate off the ice on his own power, but was escorted straight to the locker room by the trainer. Hubbs was handed a boarding major and a game misconduct for boarding.
Just past the midway point in the final stanza, Winston Day Chief sauced a pass to Kile who beats William, glove side, for what ended up being the Cyclones last goal of the game.
Three of the five goals against Williams beat him glove side, and the defense allowed Cyclones players to cleanly pass and shoot on all four.
In an epic end to a scrappy game, frustrations came to a head as all ten skaters paired off for battle. Ultimately, five players were handed penalties for their actions, including game misconducts for fighting-continuing for McNally and Kessy.
What proved to be a vicious game, ended with a grand total of 79 penalty minutes handed out. Cincy owned only 29, while Tulsa was responsible for 50 of those minutes.
On a lighter note, the Cyclones had several standout performances, including five multi-point performances. Vaive and Kile each had two goals, while Leone came out as the leading scorer of the night with one point and two assists. Three skaters carried their streaks into another day, as Vaive now sits at five goals and three assists in four games, and Justin Danforth notched five goals and eight assists in six games. In what is once again that highlight, Muzito-Bagenda tallied three assists to extend his point streak to a league-high of ten games (5g-13a). He holds the title of longest active point streak with Reading’s forward, Matt Willows, who has scored five goals and 11 assists.
Schultz, a veteran forward and one of the Cyclones top scorers, said, “We knew that they’re an offensive team and that’s the type of game they’re gonna play. They’re gonna throw a lot of pucks on net so we just have to be committed and work for our goalie and block shots. He held us in there early so we have to work for him and get the win for him.”
Speaking of Vaive, he stated, “Being around a long time, I’ve seen a lot so it’s kind of from experience. I try to use Vaive to my advantage. He’s a big guy in front of the net and hard to move, so once he gets open it’s my job to try and find him.”
Reflecting on recent success, Kile said, “I feel like we’re just starting to get into a rhythm. We had a good weekend in Kansas City last week and we got some goals and we wanted to play good in front of the crowd this weekend. We haven’t been playing good at home and we just wanted to get shots in net and shoot the puck.”
While Tulsa outshot the Cyclones in the final two periods, the Oilers were not able to capitalize on any second chances to attempt to tie. They fought hard to generate the initial shot, but did not push to get position in front of Jonas Johansson and the Cyclones were able to clear the puck out without much difficulty.
Conner Bleackley did not dress for the Oilers – a big loss offensively – as he is third on the team in scoring with 34 points (18G, 16A) in 37 games.
As Tulsa continues to make a playoff push, the defense needs to tighten up and prevent quality shots from both the outside and directly in front of whoever is in net. If Bleackley is injured for a stretch of time, the Oilers need to have someone step up in his stead.
The Cyclones return to US Bank Arena Saturday night in their final contest of the week against the Wichita Thunder. Puck drops at 7:30 on the final night of Marvel Super Heroes Weekend.