After a brief stay at home, the Cincinnati Cyclones (27-26-6) will hit the road once again and visit the southern portion of the country. Instead of Florida, this time they’ll be visiting South Carolina for a trio of games. Thursday night will be the first of two against a team the Cyclones have yet to defeat this season, the Greenville Road Warriors (31-27-4).
This coming off one of those times where the puck luck just did not go Cincinnati’s way. Last weekend, the Clones only managed to steal one victory and two points out of a possible six. The most disappointing of those games was the most recent one this past Sunday afternoon in Fort Wayne. Anybody who thinks the Cyclones played poorly is out of their mind. The Cyclones played a very good game, and just got ahead of themselves in the 3rd Period. Jack Downing got us started in the 1st, scoring his 4th goal in less than 24 hours. Fort Wayne answered back in the 2nd with the two Cyclone killers; Mike Embach made the play happen and Shawn Szydlowski buried for the equalizer. Then in the 3rd, for the first time all weekend, somebody whose last name wasn’t Downing scored as Steven Hodges put Cincinnati ahead 2-1. That’s when things began to snowball. Cincinnati had the late goal lead, and then blew it by playing one of the most dangerous defensive games there is by going into a shell, not worrying about getting any more offensive output, just trying to keep the puck out of the Cincinnati defensive zone. As expected, this bit the Cyclones as Matt Pistilli and Will Lacasse both struck in about a two minute span to give the Komets the lead and the eventual 3-2 win.
Now onto the important stuff… the playoff push. As of Thursday morning, Cincinnati sits in a 4th place deadlock with the Wheeling Nailers. Good news there is the Cyclones own the tiebreaker as they’ve won more head-to-head games against Wheeling. Indy is just 1 point behind, but, Cincinnati has a pair of games in hand on the Fuel. Spoiler alert: Evansville was finally eliminated from post season contention over the weekend. The front runners, Toledo and Fort Wayne could both clinch playoff spots tonight if Cincinnati was to lose. For the sake of me not having a heart attack, let’s hope that doesn’t happen and the Cyclones can fight off the Road Warriors, thus making the Walleye’s and Komets’ playoff clinches wait another day.
Greenville, on the other hand, currently is on the outside looking in. They sit in 6th place in the East Division, three points out of a playoff spot. Unfortunately for them, they have played two more games than 4th place Orlando and one game more than 5th place Elmira. These next couple of days are even more interesting now because you’ve got two teams who are very desperate for points in hopes of reaching the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
We might also see some fireworks over the course of the next few days. It’s been quite a while ago, but, if you can remember all the way back to when these two teams hooked up last in November, you’ll remember an excellent tilt between Jaynen Rissling and Emerson Clark. Clark is Greenville’s “tough guy” and man, did he get a beating from Rissling. Oddly enough, that was also Clark’s birthday. Rissling’s present: A face full of his fists. Clark might want revenge still so we very well could see Round 2 tonight.
Last but not least, I can’t be the only one whose made this comparison: Could Jack Downing be the new Jonathan Hazen? Hazen was always in the right place at the right time and scored several clutch goals for the Cyclones, including several Playoff Overtime winners last season that about sent me to the hospital because I don’t play well with overtime, especially during playoffs. Back to the point however, Downing has done most, if not all, the same that Hazen did. I, along with many, were deeply saddened when Hazen decided to head to Italy instead of re-signing with the Cyclones. But, we may have found the new Hazen in Jack Downing. He could be a huge key to success if the Cyclones were able to qualify for the postseason.
We get underway in Greenville, South Carolina on this Thursday evening at 7:00p.m. inside the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
As always, follow me on Twitter (@SinBinCyclones) for updates all night long.