Similar to Wednesday night, the Cincinnati Cyclones would end on a high note as they would escape Wheeling, West Virginia on Friday night with a 4-2 victory over the Nailers to complete the preseason sweep and finish the preseason with a record of 2-0-0.
Another similarity to Wednesday is the Cyclones had yet another rocky start allowing two goals in the first two minutes of the 1st period. It all started just 1:18 as a point drive from Mike Donnellan was initially stopped by Cincinnati goaltender, Neil Conway, but Connor Leen was able to bury the rebound for a 1-0 Wheeling lead. Then just one minute later, a fluke goal would put the Cyclones in an early 2-0 hole. Peter Sakaris would try to clear the zone, instead, accidentally putting into his own net; goal would be credited to Christophe Lalancette. Cincinnati would slowly inch their way back into it as just moments later, Christiaan Minella would bury a back-door feed from Joe Wilson to put the Cyclones within one.
To the 2nd period we go…
The power play was about to get hot as Steven Weinstein picked up the rebound and slammed it by Foster to tie the game at 2. Wheeling would not be able to stay out of the box (which became a theme by the end of the night), and it would cost them again on the very next Cincinnati power play. Garrick Perry with the snipe from the top of the circle would put the Cyclones ahead for the first time at 3-2. They were not done there as in the late stages of the period, Gabriel Levesque would pick up a loose puck behind the net, and wrap it around, tucking it in past a napping Casey DeSmith to make it 4-2 Cincy.
The 3rd period would be a goaltending showdown as both DeSmith and Brandon Whitney would make some unbelievable stops. Whitney stopping all 12 shots he faced in the frame completing his “shutout” stopping all 18 shots he faced from when he entered the game for Cincinnati midway through the 2nd period.
One thing would go Wheeling’s way as in the experiment of 3-on-3 overtime, Cody Wydo would cash in on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Nevertheless, would come out on top.
This game showed how deep Cincinnati’s Training Camp roster is because they were without big names like Jack Downing, Mike Ratchuk, Andrew Yogan, Zach Budish, and still found a way to win. No shortage of offense either, as overall in the two games, Cincinnati outscored Wheeling 10-3. It was the first time since 2006-2007 that the Cyclones have swept a preseason series, when they took a pair of exhibition games from the Dayton Bombers. Also have to credit Christiaan Minella for completing the Gordie Howe hat trick, picking up a goal, assist, and a fight on Friday night.
The box score of the game can be found here.
Now that the preseasn is all said and done, all eyes are on next Saturday, as the Cyclones will kick-off the 2015-2016 regular season against the Toledo Walleye. Opening Day rosters are due to the league by Wednesday October, 14th.
Here’s my picks for what the opening day roster could look like:
WARNING: I’m nowhere near a professional hockey coach so this may be heavily flawed.
Forwards: Eric Robinson, Christiaan Minella, Andrew Yogan, Garrick Perry, Jack Downing, Joe Wilson, Zach Budish, Branden Gracel, Nick Huard, Peter Quenneville, Jaynen Rissling, and Gabriel Levesque
Defense: Riley Weselowski, Brett Wysopal, Steve Weinstein, Cody Carlson, Kevin Lind and Mike Ratchuk
Goalies: Neil Conway, Brad Thiessen, and Brandon Whitney
Levesque was one of the eight players invited to camp on PTO’s and I was truly impressed with his play over the two preseason games. I believe he earned himself a spot and is the only player on a PTO that will get one. I think the team should keep all three goalies to start with. It would not be a smart move to let Conway go because of the AHL contracted goalies. Plus, I think either Thiessen or Quenneville will be called back to Lake Erie by the time the team has to drop from 21 to 20.