After an unfortunate shootout defeat at the hands of the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday night, the Cincinnati Cyclones season has come to an end and for just the second time in nine seasons, the Cyclones will not qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

First off, we’ll start off by saying congratulations to all 16 teams who will be competing for the Kelly Cup. Especially, the Toledo Walleye, Fort Wayne Komets, Kalamazoo Wings, and Wheeling Nailers who will be representing the North Division in the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs. We will have a new champion this season as for the 1st time in ECHL history, neither the Cup Champion nor runner-up from the previous season will miss the playoffs the following season. To take it a step further, none of the 4 teams who were in the Conference Finals in 2013-2014 qualified. No Bakersfield, Alaska, Greenville, or Cincinnati.

You know the best part about not being in the playoffs? I get to make my Kelly Cup picks and not feel guilty about it! That being said, watch every team I pick get swept in Round 1. Here goes nothing…

Dakota’s Kelly Cup Predictions:
Round 1: Division Semi-Finals

North:
#1 Toledo vs #4 Wheeling – Toledo in 5 games.
#2 Fort Wayne vs #3 Kalamazoo – Kalamazoo in 5 games.
East:
#1 Florida vs #4 Orlando – Florida in 6 games.
#2 South Carolina vs #3 Reading – South Carolina in 7 games.
Central:
#1 Allen vs #4 Tulsa – Allen in 4 games.
#2 Rapid City vs #3 Quad City – Quad City in 6 games.
Pacific:
#1 Idaho vs #4 Utah – Utah in 6 games.
#2 Ontario vs #3 Colorado – Colorado in 5 games.

Round 2: Division Finals

North: #1 Toledo vs #3 Kalamazoo – Toledo in 6 games.
East: #1 Florida vs #2 South Carolina – South Carolina in 6 games.
Central: #1 Allen vs #3 Quad City – Allen in 6 games.
Pacific: #3 Colorado vs #4 Utah – Utah in 7 games.

Round 3: Conference Finals

East: N1 Toledo vs E2 South Carolina – Toledo in 6 games.
West: C1 Allen vs P4 Utah – Utah in 5 games.

Round 4: Kelly Cup Finals
Toledo Walleye vs Utah Grizzlies – Toledo takes the cup in 6 games.

Looking Back at the 2014-2015 season, it was the dictionary definition of a roller coaster. All season long, it was win one, lose one. A lot of fans look at this season we need to just pretend never happened. That’s not the way you want to look at not-so-great year. We need to look at this past season as a learning curve. A grand total of 6 guys from this year’s team finish the season in Cincinnati that were also apart of the Kelly Cup Finals run in 2013-2014. Those would be: Josh Shalla, Joe Basaraba, Chris Reed, Josh McFadden, David MacDonald, and Rob Madore. Other than that, we had basically a brand new team. And to make things even more difficult, we also had a pair rookie coaches behind the bench. Matt Macdonald who was in his 3rd year coaching, 1st as a Head Coach, and Cam Keith, who was in his 1st year ever coaching. We knew right then there was going to be some growing pains. Very rarely are you going to see an unproven 1st year coach take you to a Championship. This is nothing new. We’re part of the like 90% of teams that go through this. Will next year be an improvement? I sure hope so. I have all the faith in the world that Macdonald and Keith will use the lengthy off-season to their advantage and make the adjustments needed to bring the Cyclones back to their glory in 2015-2016.

Now onto the good stuff. There were some bright spots to the year. We recognize the players who made an impact in Cincinnati with the 2014-2015 End of Season Awards:

  • Best Offensive PlayerJack Downing: Acquired at the trade deadline from the Missouri Mavericks, Downing quickly became a fan favorite and was the team’s active leading scorer.
  • Best Defensive PlayerShayne Taker: Taker didn’t score many goals but he made a big difference defensively leading the time with a +/- of +14.
  • Rookie Of The YearBranden Gracel: Gracel was another fan favorite, he led all Cyclones rookies in scoring and had the second highest +/- of +5.
  • Unsung HeroGeoff Irwin: Promoted to Assistant Captain after the departure of Brian Nugent, Irwin came up huge when the Cyclones needed him most and had been on quite a tear as the season wound down.
  • Most Improved PlayerJoe Basaraba: Basaraba played his rookie season in Cincinnati in 13-14 and was still learning the ropes, and you didn’t really notice him. In 14-15, that story changed. Basaraba became almost a point-per-game guy and had a few stints in the AHL.
  • MVPRob Madore: The reigning Kelly Cup MVP once again proved why he won the award in June 2014. After Sam Brittain was called up to the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Madore played 21 straight games in goal to close out the season and came up huge in just about every one.

Looking ahead to 2015-2016, the Cyclones will be in a new division, a new conference, and be playing some new teams. Starting next season, we will no longer be members of the Eastern Conference. We’ll be moving to the Western Conference’s Midwest Division with the Quad City Mallards, Fort Wayne Komets, Evansville IceMen, and Indy Fuel. Some new teams will be making the trek to U.S. Bank Arena as well. We’ll be seeing teams like the Missouri Mavericks, Tulsa Oilers, Allen Americans, etc. I’ve also heard the Alaska Aces could be returning to Cincy or we could be making the trip to Anchorage, AK during the regular season.

Speaking of 2015-2016, anybody in particular Cyclones fans would like to see return to the Queen City next season? Some names that pop up in my head: Jack Downing, Stephan Vigier, Nick Huard, Branden Gracel, and Geoff Irwin are some names I’d like to see back. Agree or disagree, feel free to tweet me @SinBinCyclones your thoughts.

Another Cincinnati Cyclones season is in the books. I thank you for reading and following along this season. With all the ups and down, it has certainly been fun getting to cover this team. I cannot wait to do it all again next season. That’s it for SinBinCyclones for the 14-15 season. Hope to have you all back in October!

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