CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Cyclones (29-21-2-0) defeated the Kalamazoo Wings (27-22-3-2) 2-1 at US Bank Arena on Saturday during their annual Fight Cancer Night.
Despite flooding less than a football field away from the arena – and a torrential downpour outside – fans came in droves for Cyclones Fight Cancer Night for one of the best crowds of the season. The night featured specialty jerseys emblazoned with survivors’ photos and an overall pink/purple hue. Taking the theme one step further, the ice was painted lavender for the evening’s contest.
In a game with playoff implications on the line, both teams came out with lackluster energy. However, the Cyclones were able to record a goal each in the first and second frames to hold a comfortable lead until the game’s final moments.
Alex Kile recorded his 10th goal of the season in the first period when he caught a pass in front of the net, deked in front of K-Wings goaltender Joel Martin, and slid it over the goal line. 15 minutes after Kile’s goal, Justin Vaive made a diving poke off a rebound in the second frame to give the home team the two-goal advantage.
With under two minutes remaining in the game, the K-Wings received a lucky break when the officials rule an initially questionable goal good, ultimately killing Jonas Johansson’s shutout bid.
Johansson has allowed just one goal in two of his last six games, and only three times all season. In response to any adjustments he may have made, the goalie said,
“Honestly, I don’t know about any special adjustments. You play up and down during the season. You’re just trying to keep the high. Just play as good as possible in as many games as possible. It goes up and down. It’s been feeling really good lately.”
The Cyclones face the K-Wings two more times this season, both in Kalamazoo within a two-week span.
Given recent transactions which have seen the Cyclones’ top scorers move up to the Rochester Americans, adjustments to play are necessary. Assistant captain Dominic Zombo stated they’ve played,
“Simple. Everything’s gotta be really simple, stick to simple hockey. Chip, chase, win battles. work harder than the other team and I think everybody’s buying in. We’ve got guys who haven’t really gotten a shot in this league are getting a shot to do things that they aren’t normally doing and they’re being successful.”
With playoffs quickly approaching, the Cyclones have the Indy Fuel nipping at their heels as the Fuel have torn through the Central Division in their fight to win a spot. Zombo noted the importance of every game outside of their final five against the Fuel, saying,
“I just think we have to go in every single game and work for that [points]. We do see the standings. You got KZoo, you got Indy and stuff like that. You’ve just gotta chip away when you can. You can’t lose the games that you shouldn’t lose and you’ve gotta steal some points against the teams with, maybe us being depleted, are tough to get.”