On Saturday night, the Cincinnati Cyclones (27-25-6) picked up two monumental points in the North Division against the division-leading Fort Wayne Komets (38-14-6) by a final of 3-1. Sunday afternoon, the two clubs will hook up at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne for the first time this season to round out this three-in-three.
Before we get into it, I just have one thing to say. Thank you to the Missouri Mavericks for sending us Jack Downing. I said it yesterday, it was only a matter of time before he exploded and started putting up numbers. Not to brag, but, I called it! In just his second game in a Cyclones uniform, he picked up a hat trick, scoring all three goals in a 3-1 victory. With 7,185 on hand in attendance last night at U.S. Bank Arena, the Cyclones did not fail to impress. The Komets, on the other hand, once again proved my point that they are one of the most overrated teams in the ECHL. The Komets did not want any part of that game as the Cyclones had them beat from the moment the puck dropped. When Fort Wayne did get into the Cincinnati zone, they just lazily put one on cage, hoping for something to happen. As good as Rob Madore has been over the past few weeks, that failed miserably as Rob turned aside 31 of the 32 shots he faced. Cyclones also played the role of spoiler a bit as the Komets’ loss knocked them out of 1st Place in the North. And I’m telling you this now, if there’s going to be a higher seeded team that get’s bounced in the 1st round of the playoffs, it’s going to be Fort Wayne.
I was also very surprised with Fort Wayne forwards Mike Embach and Shawn Szydlowski. Those are two whose whereabouts on the ice are usually always noticeable. On Saturday night, it’s like they didn’t even exist. Hell, I only noticed Embach once and that’s because he got whistled for two penalties in the first period. If you’re a Cincinnati fan, that is excellent news. Keeping those two off the score sheet will help everybody in Cincy sleep better at night. Let’s hope for more of the same this afternoon.
Saturday night’s win was, as stated earlier, monumental. Elmira and Toledo also sent some help Cincinnati’s way as the Jackals topped Wheeling 4-1, and Toledo topped Indy 4-3 in a Shootout. Now, the Cyclones find themselves back in the playoff picture, but only by a single point as Indy and Wheeling both sit in a 5th place deadlock with 59 points. Cincinnati sits in 4th with 60, trailing the Kalamazoo Wings in 3rd who have 63. With both Wheeling and Indy idle Sunday, Cincinnati absolutely has to take advantage and start to put some distance between them and the teams that trail them.
We drop the puck from Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne at 5:00p.m. EST.
In other news not related to this afternoon’s tilt: If you open your history books, and turn to the page where the Cyclones’ 2007-2008 season was written, you’ll see where the Cyclones broke an ECHL record for most consecutive wins at 17 straight victories. On Saturday night, that record was broken. It took seven seasons, but, the South Carolina Stingrays smashed the record, winning their 18th straight game, with a 6-0 shutout over Gwinnett. The Cyclones will meet South Carolina twice over the next week and a half, once in Cincinnati, once down in Charleston. It’ll be interesting to see if that win streak still stands by then and if the Cyclones can beat the team that broke their record.