MOLINE, IL – Coming off a season high four-game winning streak last week, the Cincinnati Cyclones made the trip west to Moline, Illinois for just the second time this season for a weekend set against their Midwest Division foe in the Quad City Mallards.
Even though the Cyclones managed to salvage two of four possible points, I wasn’t very impressed with Cincinnati’s play this weekend. Of the 120 minutes of hockey, I can only say 40 of them were truly owned by the Cyclones; those minutes being the 3rd period on Friday and the 1st period on Saturday. Every other period of hockey was dominated by Quad City.
Despite the split, I felt the Mallards were definitely the better team on the weekend. The only difference being Friday, everything was finding net for the Mallards, and Saturday, Andy Iles was able to stone them at almost every turn.
FRIDAY: This was one of those “It was over before it even started” kind of games. Right off the opening faceoff, the Mallards absolutely jumped all over the Cyclones and never looked back. Kyle Follmer struck for Quad City just 72 seconds into the night and it was pretty much done from that point on. The Cyclones were outshot 14-2 in that 1st period alone. Follmer and Sam Warning would lead the way for the Mallards, each striking twice. Brady Brassart and Guillaume Gelinas would add in their own offensive contributions as well. Cincinnati stopped the bleeding a wee bit in the 3rd, getting goals from Nick Huard and Branden Gracel, however, it was nowhere close to enough as the Mallards ran away with a 6-2 win. Brody Hoffman, who was once again able to make Cincinnati fans hate life, made 24 saves on 26 shots in the win. Definitely an uncharacteristic night as Joe Pendenza, fresh off of reassignment to Cincinnati from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, was an astounding -5 on the night.
SATURDAY: In need of some serious redemption after the nightmare the night before, the start to Saturday’s game was a complete 360 from Friday. The Cyclones came out flying outshooting the Mallards 13-3 in the first 20 minutes. In the first five minutes, Jack Downing struck twice, reaching a career milestone of 100 goals in his professional career. It became a theme, but the Mallards would not go away easily as they got goals from Matt Carey, Jared Knight, and the man who had a hot stick this weekend, Follmer. However, the Cyclones would be able to seal off Quad City getting a trio of goals from Pendenza, Zach Budish, and Tommy Mele to insure a 5-3 Cincinnati victory.
Andy Iles was pulled for Brandon Whitney on Friday after looking a little shaky, stopping 25 of 29 shots. I was almost certain Whitney would start in goal for the Cyclones on Saturday, however Coach Matt Macdonald elected to go back to Iles, giving him a chance at redemption. Iles played a lot more confidently and stopped 26 of 29 in the win and was making those big saves he didn’t make on Friday. You’d be amazed how that can skyrocket a guy’s confidence levels moving forward, and Iles is a guy that when he’s on top of his game, it’s a beautiful thing to see.
Hopefully those 3rd grade math classes don’t fail me, but combined, Quad City outshot Cincinnati 64-52 and outscored them 9-7 on the weekend. Again, that isn’t a good weekend for the Cyclones. This late in the season, and clinging to the 7th seed in the Western Conference, they simply need to be better, ESPECIALLY against a Quad City team that’s currently on the Cyclones’ tail for one of those final playoff spots. To go even deeper, they need to learn to be better away from U.S. Bank Arena period.
Heading into the final week of February, the Cyclones are 17-5-1-2 at home, and 9-15-2-0 on the road.
This upcoming a week is a chance for Cincinnati to get some separation from the teams chasing them in the Western Conference with four games, all on home ice, against four different opponents.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Tuesday February 23rd, 2016 vs Evansville – 7:35pm EST
*I currently lead my bet with Mike Finazzo (Sin Bin IceMen) 4-2. A Cincinnati win on Tuesday and it will be pay-up time…
Wednesday February 24th, 2016 vs Atlanta – 7:35pm EST
Friday February 26th, 2016 vs Tulsa – 7:35pm EST
*Coming into town with the Oilers will be former Cyclone, Brian Nugent, who is returning to Downtown Cincinnati for the first time since donning a Cincinnati uniform last season.
Saturday February 27th, 2016 vs Indy – 7:35pm EST