Head Coach: Matt Macdonald
-Third year as head coach, fifth year coaching with Cincinnati
-Overall record of (67-57-20)
Captains: Captains have not officially been announced, but here are the captains that were used during the preseason games against Wheeling if they remain the same:
–Peter LeBlanc (Alternate Captain, first year served)
–Jordan Sims (Alternate Captain, first year served)
–Sam Posa (Alternate Captain, first year served)
2015-2016 Season Summary:
-Regular Season record of (36-27-9)
-Finished 2nd in Midwest Division, 7th in Western Conference
-Lost in Western Conference Quarterfinals in seven games to Fort Wayne
Cincinnati’s 2015-2016 campaign can be best described as the dictionary definition of a roller coaster. There were some really high points like their hot (9-3-2) February where you thought they had the caliber to compete for a championship, and some really low points like their pretty dismal holiday season that saw them plummet towards the basement where you thought they probably couldn’t even make the playoffs. Although the bad is what tends to stick with you, it’s important to focus on the good, as this was overall, a positive season. The 2014-2015 squad finished one single game above .500 and missed the playoffs. Despite the 2015-2016 team’s faults, they were an improvement and a step in the right direction finishing nine games over .500 and qualifying for the playoffs.
Hot or Not:
The 2016-2017 Cincinnati Cyclones roster got a complete face-lift over the off-season, and in this case, resulted in a stacked lineup. The big gain over the off-season, which might be get overlooked by a lot of people, was the addition of Assistant Coach, Patrick Wellar. A man with 12 years of professional experience, and three ECHL Championships to his name; he’s been through the process many times and knows what he wants from his team. Any team would kill to get a guy like that behind their bench.
Wellar’s presence brought in veteran center Peter LeBlanc, who will be another huge asset to this team, strengthening its offensive core.
The defense was arguably the biggest area of concern last season. Not one ECHL contracted defenseman from last season was brought back. Their new-look defense features six guys who are at least 6-0 or taller, including Eric Knodel (6-6) and Craig Dalrymple (6-5). Talk about stacked. That’s exactly what Coach Macdonald wanted when recruiting. He wanted tall, intimidating guys on the back-end and smaller, faster guys up front creating offense.
Going back to the point made earlier about the roster receiving a complete face-lift, only three players from last year’s squad returned to the Cyclones this season. All of which, are forwards.
-21 goals, 31 assists in 72 games with Cincinnati last season
-Four goals, six assists and 98 penalty minutes in 58 games with Cincinnati last season
-Eight goals, 12 assists in 25 games with Cincinnati after being acquired in a trade with South Carolina last February
It was Europe or bust for a majority of the players that devised last season’s roster. Although this frustrates fans who want to see familiar faces come back every year, this is simply the nature of the beast in the ECHL. Last year’s roster had several guys who felt their chances to move up to the AHL had been shot dead and went for more money over in Europe. The big three losses that were extremely hard to replace were the top three point scorers who combined for 71 goals, and 98 assists on the season.
-32 goals, 34 assists in 72 games with Cincinnati last season
-Now with EC Kassel Huskies in Germany and has 11 points in eight games
-15 goals, 28 assists in 34 games with Cincinnati last season
-Now with HC Bolzano in Austria and has seven points in six games
-24 goals, 34 assists in 69 games with Cincinnati last season
-Now with Jukurit in Finland and has seven points in nine games
Despite all the names that have departed, there are some names Cyclones fans can be excited about that are coming in to fill those voids that remain.
Peter LeBlanc (The New Jack Downing)
-Brings a wealth of AHL experience plus a game of NHL experience to the Queen City. He was good for half a point per game in the AHL while being a point per game in his lone ECHL stint with Toledo in 2010-11. During the preseason game on Friday against Wheeling, he showed signs of Downing by displaying his absolute cannon of a slapshot.
Jordan Sims (The New Andrew Yogan)
-Had a bit of a “breakout” season with Evansville last year, putting up 46 points in 64 games with the IceMen. The highlight would be his +18 rating on an IceMen team that was pretty brutal. Throughout the preseason, he showed signs of Yogan by dishing out some pretty nifty passes right to other guys’ stick tape creating offensive chance after chance.
Players to Keep an Eye On:
While looking at the roster, there may not be some names that “pop-out” at first. There’s a couple names that may surprise you when the puck drops for the season opener on Friday night in Indy.
-One guy the Cyclones had last season that gave an 110% effort each and every shift was Brandon Gracel. Zombo was brought in to fill that role as he is also a guy that will treat every shift like it’s his last. During his rookie campaign with Toledo, he was good for 26 points in 69 games with the Walleye. I’d say it’s safe to expect anywhere from 35-45 points out of him this season.
-One Cincinnati native in Christiaan Minella leaves for retirement, another Cincinnati native comes in to replace him. Betzold had a stellar season in the Ontario Hockey League last season with the Peterborough Petes, putting up 65 points in 65 games. He was also good for two goals during the two preseason games against Wheeling, including making a Pavel Datsyuk style move on a pair of Nailer defensemen for one of the goals. Betzold could very well be a top three point scorer for Cincinnati this season, or at the least, the team leader in points by rookies.
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