KALAMAZOO, MI – The red-hot Cincinnati Cyclones made their first visit to southern Michigan on Friday to do battle with the Kalamazoo Wings in the first of five meetings. Cincinnati came into the contest winners of four straight games. Kalamazoo, on the other hand, was coming off of being shutout in back-to-back games by both the Wheeling Nailers and Toledo Walleye.
Even though the K-Wings had dominated puck possession for the first few minutes of the first period, it was Cincinnati that drew first blood. At the 6:23 mark of the opening frame, Kenny Ryan was able to sneak behind the Kalamazoo defense and snipe a shot blocker side on K-Wings netminder, Nick Riopel, to make it 1-0 Cincinnati during a four-on-four situation on Ryan’s second goal in as many games.
Picking up an assist on Ryan’s tally was Cincinnati goaltender, Michael Houser. It was the second straight game a Cyclones goalie had picked up a point. Mark Visentin recorded an assist on Wednesday night against the Reading Royals. There won’t be many times in your life that you’re going to see a stat like that about goalies recording points in consecutive games.
That would be all the scoring until the third period. Just 92 seconds into the final frame, Nick Huard forced a turnover just centimeters in front of Riopel and was able to slip it through his arm and into the net to make it 2-0 Cincinnati. In the final minute, Andrew Yogan would add an empty net goal to seal the deal, and Cincinnati would pull out of Kalamazoo with a 3-0 win.
Houser was phenomenal in goal for Cincinnati, stopping all 23 Kalamazoo shots he faced earning his first shutout of the season, and helping Head Coach Matt Macdonald achieve a new personal best. Since Macdonald took the helm behind the Cyclones bench prior to the 2014-2015 season, Cincinnati had not been able to win more than four straight games… until Friday night as they were able to eclipse their fifth straight win.
The K-Wings have now been shutout in three straight games. In fact, the current timer since the last goal Kalamazoo has scored, which came back on November 2nd in Brampton, is at 195:56. They have been held goal-less since.
This was hands down, the best defensive performance the Cyclones have given this season. They’ve gotten the offense going, the goaltending has been more consistent, and all that was left to do was tighten up defensively.
All night long on the Cincinnati end, Cyclone sweaters were beating Kalamazoo sweaters to loose pucks. When the K-Wings were putting on pressure, Cincinnati defensemen were keeping the Wings to the outside, not letting a lot of pucks get through to Houser. Every game that goes by, this team comes together more and more.
A bit of an unsung hero for the Cyclones was defenseman, Troy Vance. He hadn’t played since opening weekend due to injury, and made his presence known in his first game back in the lineup. Although, he didn’t put up any points, Vance was a +3 on the night and was a huge asset on the back-end throughout the evening.
In just a couple weeks span, a 2-5-0 Cincinnati team, became a 7-5-0 team occupying 2nd place in the South Division, sitting behind the Southern front-runners in the Florida Everblades.
The Cyclones will return home to U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday night as the welcome in the Toledo Walleye in search of their sixth straight win as well as a bit of revenge from that 5-0 pounding the Walleye gave Cincinnati a few short weeks ago.