The 2015-2016 Cincinnati Cyclones continue to take shape as on Wednesday afternoon, the Cyclones announced that Branden Gracel, recipient of the club’s “Rookie Of The Year” honors in 2014-2015, would return to the club for another season. Gracel joins Christiaan Minella, and Nick Huard as the only returnees so far in this quickly moving off-season.

From the Cyclones’ Official Release:

CINCINNATI, OH- The Cincinnati Cyclones have signed forward Branden Gracel for the upcoming season. Entering his second professional campaign, Gracel skated in the final 52 games for the Cyclones last season.

“Branden is a hard worker who competes at both ends of the ice, and he brings a lot of character and hard work ethic to the lineup,” said Cyclones Head Coach Matt MacDonald. “We are excited to see what he can accomplish this season.”

A native of Calgary, AB, Gracel split last season between the Cyclones and the South Carolina Stingrays. In 17 games with the Stingrays, Gracel accounted for four goals and five assists. After being traded to the ‘Clones on December 12, the 5’9”, 180 pound centerman totaled 11 goals and 15 assists over the final 52 games of the season.  

Prior to turning pro last season, Gracel enjoyed a successful collegiate career at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, totaling 89 points (38g, 51a) in 134 games played. He led the Minutemen in scoring during his junior year, and finished in the top three in team scoring in each of his final two collegiate seasons.”

For the fans who were concerned with the huge amount of rookies, fresh out of College, making their way to Cincinnati, this has got to put them at ease a little more. This is another great move for Matt Macdonald and company, as finding Gracel was one of the few bright sides to the rather lackluster season in 2014-2015.  He seemed to add the spark that was missing last season, and it’s exciting to know he’ll be bringing that back this season.

Also worth mentioning: Of the players to finish the season in Cincinnati, Gracel was one of only three players to finish on the plus side of the plus/minus rating. He was, as well, the only forward to achieve that as the other two were defensemen Chris Reed, and Shayne Taker.

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