CINCINNATI, OH – After a pair of wins over the Indy Fuel on Thursday and Friday night, the Cincinnati Cyclones are 25 games into a 72-game regular season. Currently sitting in a tie for 4th place in the ECHL’s South Division with a 11-10-4 record and 26 points, Head Coach Matt Macdonald, now in his third season as the man behind the bench, gives his thoughts on his club’s sub-par start to the 2016-2017 campaign as well as what they need to do to get to where they feel they should be in the standings.
Q: Being 1/3 of the way through the season, now that you’ve gotten to see what everyone on this roster brings to the table, what are your overall thoughts so far?
A: Obviously, the start to the season was not the ideal situation we wanted to be in. We kind of went on a bit of an up-and-down where we started the year 1-4-0, then won five straight, turned around and lost six straight. I do like that our room is really coming together, and I think we’ve seen that the last several nights. Guys are starting to compete every night. Our confidence is starting to get better in the third period, which is what we’ve struggled with. All in all, I think things are starting to go in the right direction.
Q: What kind of adjustments do you feel need to be made and what will the mentality be from now on so this team can get to where you think they should be in the standings?
A: I believe the big thing is just confidence. It’s something that you can’t get overnight. We’ve been working on it a lot and I think you’re starting to see guys are getting more confident with the puck. Our big thing is we just need to play as a team and work within our systems and if guys continue to do that, we’ll continue to climb the standings. We have all the pieces, we just need to make it all fit.
Q: At the start of the season, the Cyclones were REALLY snake-bitten offensively, especially with the power play. The biggest example of this would be the play lately of Peter LeBlanc. He couldn’t buy a goal at the beginning but now he’s finding the net as well as the power play is starting to produce. How’s it been to see it all start to come together?
A: It’s been great. It was extremely frustrating at the beginning. Guys like LeBlanc and Yogan have really stepped up lately. There’s a lot of guys that go unnoticed out there as well. Guys like Nick Huard are a big reason our penalty kill has done as well as it has lately as well as the power play. The addition of Michael Houser has helped us out tremendously in goal. Those guys are key pieces. It’s taken us a little bit of time to really get going but it will get there.
Q: You’ve already made one major roster shake-up, dealing Kenny Ryan to the Utah Grizzlies, do you see yourself tapping into the trade block again down the road?
A: That’s a tough question. I honestly don’t really know at this point. I’m not actively looking to make any more moves as of now but anything can change.
Q: The Cyclones goaltending situation got even more interesting last weekend with the reassignment of Brad Thiessen from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. Now that he’s been recalled back to Cleveland, are you expecting him back again at any point his season?
A: I didn’t even expect him down for those two games last weekend against Quad City so, no, I don’t expect him back. He’s an AHL goalie. He’s been up there and he’s done well up there.
Q: The Cyclones have been without the services of Shawn O’Donnell (who was second on the team in scoring before an injury) and Mark Visentin as of late, how much longer are you expecting them to be out of commission?
A: I don’t think either of them are going to be out for much longer. They’ve both been practicing consistently. It’s just a matter of when they get the green light from not only the doctors, but also the conditioning levels to make sure they’re ready to go for a game.
Q: Finally, Andrew Yogan has been on an absolute tear since coming back from Europe. How vital has he been to this team since returning to Cincinnati?
A: Yogan is a very big piece of this team. It’s obvious not only on the score sheet but he’s a very big piece in the locker room as well. He came in at a very pivotal time at the start of the year and he got this team to gel together and got them going in the right direction. I believe he is a very committed player to this organization. He puts a lot of pressure on himself and that’s why he’s a leader on this team. He wears an “A” on his shoulder for a reason.
Our thanks to Matt Macdonald for taking some time out of his very busy schedule to do this with us!