CINCINNATI, OH – The Cyclones began a pair of preseason games with the Wheeling Nailers on Thursday and Friday night to get a bit of a look at what the 2016-2017 squad will look like come opening night, as well as see who was hungriest to try and earn a spot on this year’s team.
In Thursday’s preseason opener, the Cyclones would dominate from beginning to end. It didn’t take the Cyclones long at all to get the ball rolling. Just 2:41 into the first period, Christian Powers would win a face-off back to Joe Manno, who blasted it past a surprised Wheeling goaltender in Michael Doan, to make it 1-0 Cincinnati early.
Midway through the middle frame, the Cyclones would increase their lead to a pair. On the power play, Colin Mulvey and Jordan Sims both crashed the net, looking for a rebound, and Sims was able to find it and bury it to put the Cyclones up 2-0.
The Cyclones would tack on two more goals in the third period for good measure. Greg Betzold, the Cincinnati native, would pull some Pavel Datsyuk-like moves, dancing around a pair of Wheeling defensemen and depositing the puck past goaltender Spencer Bacon (yeah, that’s really his name), who had just been placed into the game by Wheeling, to put Cincinnati up by a trio. The icing on the cake would be with Dylan Nowakowski sneaking behind the Wheeling defense on a clean breakaway, and cashing in to make it 4-0 Cincinnati, which would be your final score.
It wasn’t a very busy evening for Cyclones goalie, Joel Rumpel, but when he had to make a big stop, he made the big stop. Rumpel stopped all 20 Wheeling shots he faced for the shutout on Thursday. In fact, Joel only faced three shots in the second period as through the final 40 minutes of play, Cincinnati out-shot Wheeling by a combined 30-9 margin.
A box score of Thursday night’s contest can be found here.
Moving on to Friday night in the preseason finale, it would be an absolute penalty fest of a game as for approximately half of the game, at least one team was on a man disadvantage. 30 penalty minutes were assessed throughout the night with 18 minutes of penalties sentenced to Wheeling, and 12 on Cincinnati.
Another early start for the Cyclones would get things moving. This time, five minutes into the opening frame, Taylor Fielding bobbled the puck a bit, lost it in the skates of some Nailer defensemen, finally found it and was able to pot it past Bacon to put Cincinnati ahead 1-0.
The Cyclones would go ahead by a pair midway through the second period. Manno, picking the pocket of a Nailer, going clean in on a shorthanded breakaway and cashing in for his second goal of the preseason to make it 2-0 Cincinnati. Another specialty teams goal for Cincinnati would make it 3-0 in the dying minutes of the second. On the power play, Manno threw it on cage, and there to knock in the rebound was Betzold, picking up his second goal of the preseason as well.
Wheeling would avoid being shutout for the second straight night. At the 11:31 mark of the regulation period, Johan Sorkin on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break would beat rookie netminder, Steve Racine to put the Nailers on the board. 3-1 Cincinnati would be your final score on the night as the Cyclones completed the preseason sweep of Wheeling for the second straight year.
Aside from the one hiccup, it wasn’t a bad outing for Racine who got his first taste of professional action, stopping 16 of the 17 Wheeling shots he faced in the victory.
An interesting note from the game on Friday was that Sims, Peter LeBlanc, and Sam Posa were all serving as “Alternate Captains” with “A”s on their shoulders.
A box score of Friday night’s game can be found here.
Despite the fact that it was a preseason and these games don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but it was a pair of solid outings for the Cyclones as pointing out a noticeable negative in their game was a difficult task.
The biggest surprise throughout these two games were the players in Cincinnati on tryout agreements. These are guys that when you initially read their names on the training camp roster earlier this week, you probably weren’t planning to be seeing them on the opening night roster. Well, they made a pretty damn good case for themselves on why they should be on this year’s squad.
There are seven players here on PTO’s and five of them left this preseason with at least one point and all of them finished on the plus side of the plus/minus rating.
The star of the players on tryout agreements was forward Joe Manno. He led the entire team in scoring with three points (two goals, one assists) and a +3 rating. A close second would be Christian Powers who finished the preseason with two assists and a +2 rating.
What saddens me though is that by this time next week, some of these guys will be without jobs. Coaches Matt Macdonald and Patrick Wellar have some tough decisions ahead of them with AHL reassignments and cut time looming, which in this case, is a good problem to have.