CINCINNATI, Ohio – The battle of Ohio ramps up tonight as the Cyclones and Walleye meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and for the third time overall. The Cyclones have a 6-2 record against the Walleye in the previous matchups.

While the final regular-season standings show a 21-point spread between the teams, the season series was much closer, with seven of the nine games decided by two goals or less and two of them requiring extra time.

Final Regular Season Records:

Cincinnati Cyclones: 51-13-5-3, 110 points – Brabham Cup Champions
Toledo Walleye: 40-23-6-3, 89 points – 2nd in Central Division

How They Got Here:

Division Semifinals

Cincinnati Cyclones: defeated Kalamazoo 4-2
Toledo Walleye: defeated Fort Wayne 4-2

Series Schedule (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and all times local):

Game 1 – Thursday, April 25 – Toledo at CINCINNATI 7:35 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, April 27 – Cincinnati at TOLEDO 7:15 pm ET
Game 3 – Wednesday, May 1 – Cincinnati at TOLEDO 7:15 pm ET
Game 4 – Friday, May 3 – Cincinnati at TOLEDO 7:15 pm ET
*Game 5 – Saturday, May 4 – Toledo at CINCINNATI 7:35 pm ET
*Game 6 – Tuesday, May 7 – Toledo at CINCINNATI 7:35 pm ET
*Game 7 – Wednesday, May 8 – Toledo at CINCINNATI 7:35 pm ET

*=> If Necessary

Season Series Recap:

As mentioned above, seven of the nine regular-season meetings between the two teams were settled by two goals or less, with the Cyclones going 5-2-2 against the Walleye. Cyclones goaltender Michael Houser was in net for all the matchups, posting a 2.23 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Brady Vail and Vasili Goltov were the main instigators for the Cyclones offense, combining for 16 points (8G, 8A) in the season series.

For the Walleye, Pat Nagle shouldered most of the load in net, going 2-3 with a 2.60 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. The Walleye offense was led by Dylan Sadowy, who led the team in goals (3) and points (6) in just seven games against the Cyclones this season.

Cincinnati Keys to Success:

The Cyclones offense has been deep enough all year that it didn’t really matter who scored on a given night. But in the playoffs, when a key offensive piece goes missing, it shows. In the first six games of this year’s tournament, Goltov has just two points (1G, 1A). If he can get going, combined with the offensive output from Vail, Myles Powell, and Mitch Jones, it will make the Cyclones team that much deeper and a lot tougher to beat.

Toledo Keys to Success:

Dylan Sadowy has to remain hot for Toledo to have success in this series. He was the straw that stirred the drink for the Walleye offense against the Cyclones during the regular season and he’ll be called upon to facilitate the offense with regularity in this series. Behind Sadowy, the Walleye have received steady secondary offense from guys like rookies Zach Gallant (7 pts – 4G, 3A), David Pope (5 pts – 1G, 4A) and savvy playoff veteran Greg Wolfe (6 pts – 2G, 4A). Likewise, those contributions will need to continue.

But, the Walleye’s success in this round may just come down to Pat Nagle, who has allowed just 10 goals in the first six games of the playoffs. If he continues this stellar play from round one, Toledo has a great chance of winning.