CINCINNATI – After a disappointing end to the 2017-18 season, the Cincinnati Cyclones had a strong offseason with several big signings that solidified top talent to remain in the Queen City, including Jesse Schultz and Shawn O’Donnell. With the old comes some new, as the Cyclones named Matt Thomas the fifth head coach in the club’s history. Noted by his peers as being a man with a resume that should land him a spot in the American League, Thomas replaced Matt MacDonald, who left Cincinnati for an assistant coaching position with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. After a tumultuous summer, the Cyclones gear up for a sure-to-be whirlwind season in the hottest division in the ECHL.
Nuts and Bolts:
2017-18 Record: 39-30-3-0 (81 points)
Playoffs: Lost in first round to Ft. Wayne in 5 games
Division/Conference Finish: 3rd in Central Division/5th in Western Conference
Goals For Per Game: 3.14 (14th in ECHL)
Goals Against Per Game: 3.06 (10th in ECHL)
Power Play: 20.1%, 2nd in ECHL
Penalty Kill: 76.7%, 26th in ECHL
Cincinnati is loaded with goaltending talent. The club signed Hayden Stewart who made a strong showing in net in his professional debut following the end of his collegiate career at Cornell towards the end of last season. Courtesy of Buffalo and Rochester, the Cyclones will have Jonas Johansson and Michael Houser on deck as well, creating a beautiful disaster of a predicament with ECHL roster rules.
In regards to what Cyclones fans should see this year on the ice, Coach Matt Thomas said:
“I’d like to believe that we’re going to be a team that plays fast. I want to be a team that’s hard to play against. I think that sometimes can be misconstrued as we’re gonna be tough in terms of being a physically dominating team. I want to be a team that’s just very disruptive when we don’t have the puck and then tough to catch when we have it. I think that’s just where the games going. It’s based around the speed. We’re looking forward to being a team that can make teams pay when they make a mistake. That’s what we want to concentrate on, how can we take every opportunity to create an offensive advantage for our club.”
(Credit to Let’s Go Amerks)
By far one of the most underrated players on last season’s roster, Zombo is a player that is where he his needed at the most opportune times, and gets the job done when it matters most. His hustle and pure skill is one that deserves more attention than currently garnered.
Cincinnati’s golden boy is back, if only (read: hopefully) for a little while. The hard-knuckled defenseman is known for his rough and tumble side when the gloves are dropped, along with his offensive prowess – oh, and who could forget his epic goal celebration last season? Here for a good time, but hopefully not a long time, the Rochester signee is no stranger to Cyclones fans for his big personality and even bigger play-making abilities.
Welcome back to the Queen City, Michael! Nice to have you on this side of the ice again! Another guy with a future unknown at the ECHL level, one thing is for certain: he’s easily one of the top goaltenders in the league. To no surprise, his talent has landed him multiple trips to the AHL over the last several years, in which this season in likely to be no different. Cyclones faithfuls cannot soon forget his dominance in the series he tended against Cincinnati last season during his run with the Fort Wayne Komets.
Gone But Not Forgotten:
Justin Danforth: One of the ECHL’s top rookies in 2017-18, Danforth signed with Lukko Rauma shortly after the end of the season.
Brandon McNally: The fan favorite and notable bad boy, the Dartmouth alum also took a hop, skip, and a jump overseas to Italy to compete for the Vipiteno Sterzing Broncos.
Daniel Muzito-Bagenda: Who could possibly forget this force of nature who graced Cincinnati ice last season? The forward went back to his home country of Sweden to play for AIK in Stockholm.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
Competing in what is likely to be the most difficult division in the ECHL, the Cyclones have every reason and ability to be one of the top teams in the Central. With the key signings of top returners, as well as help from Rochester and the renowned coaching talent that is Matt Thomas, this team has the potential to be one of the best the city has seen since their beloved playoff runs in the early 2010’s.