MANCHESTER, NH – The Cincinnati Cyclones wasted little time going on a lengthy road trip just five games into the season. The team endured a 15-hour bus ride to New England for the club’s first ever meeting with the Manchester Monarchs, kicking off a three games in three days series.

Despite these teams being completely new to each other, there was some familiarity up and down both rosters coming into this series. Manchester’s personnel in Tony Turgeon, Teddy Doherty, and Sam Brittain all at one point or another over the past couple seasons, donned a Cyclones jersey in their careers; or in Doherty’s case, just four days ago.

On the Cincinnati side of things, goaltender Michael Houser suited up for the Monarchs last season as a member of the Florida Panthers organization. To add to it all, Cincinnati’s Eric Knodel and Manchester’s Connor Hardowa were actually teammates with the Utah Grizzlies last season.

The Monarchs welcomed Cincinnati into their building for the first time with open arms as Manchester rocketed out of the gate and never took their foot off the gas pedal, defeating the Cyclones by a score of 7-3.

Manchester opened the scoring just 6:01 into the opening frame with a power-play goal from David Kolomatis. Joe Diamond found Kolomatis in the high slot, and he ripped it past Houser to put Manchester on the board at 1-0. Power play goals for the Monarchs would become a theme as the night went on. Cincinnati would answer back just moments later as Dominic Zombo buried a rebound off a Peter LeBlanc shot for his team-leading third goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.

Midway through the first period, Manchester would regain the lead. Quentin Shore would unleash an absolute missile of a shot from the bottom of the right circle over Houser’s shoulder and in to make it 2-1 Manchester. Late in the period, Damir Sharipzyanov (try saying that name three times fast) would let loose a cannon blast from the right point through traffic and in to make it 3-1 Monarchs on their second power-play goal of the night.

At the 18:41 mark of the first, as he was falling, Diamond was able to snap the puck past Houser to put the Monarchs ahead 4-1 heading into the first intermission on their third power play goal of the night.

This would spell the end of Houser’s night. He only stopped 10 shots of the 14 he faced, as Mark Visentin came in to relieve at the start of the second period.

Early in the middle frame, the Monarchs would make it 4-for-4 on the power play. Justin Agosta was camped back-door with no Cincinnati d-man in sight and slammed home a centering feed to make it 5-1 Manchester. Cincinnati would answer back though with Jordan Sims‘ first goal of the season. Nick Huard threw the puck towards the cage and Sims was there waiting to shovel it in, and he was able to cut the Monarchs lead to 5-2 after 40 minutes of play.

Just over halfway through the third period, Manchester would tack on another goal. Hardowa with a blast from the blue line found it’s way through traffic and past Visentin to put the Monarchs up 6-2. Manchester would put the final nail in the coffin, again using specialty teams to victimize Cincinnati, this time on the penalty kill. Alexx Privitera off a horrendous Cincinnati defensive turnover, makes the Cyclones give up their third shorthanded goal of the season to make it 7-2 Manchester.  The Cyclones would make the score a tad more respectable with Shawn O’Donnell‘s first goal of the season, bringing it to 7-3 Manchester, which would be your final.

If it hasn’t been made clear already, Manchester’s power play is deadly. Self-discipline and staying out of the box is going to be what makes or breaks the Cyclones through the remaining two games of this weekend series. The Cyclones showed they can skate with Manchester 5-on-5 but get completely slaughtered when on the man disadvantage. If you take away those penalties that led to the four power play goals, this game would’ve gone into overtime tied at 3-3.

If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. The Cyclones struggled mightily offensively for the first four games, only scoring a goal a game. Offensively speaking, tonight was their best game of the season so far. However while the offense picked it up, the defense started to slide back a bit. Matt Macdonald is tinkering with the right pieces. This team is making strides although it may not seem like it. It’s just a matter of getting all the pieces in just the right places.

Round two of this three-game series is set for tonight at 6:00pm EST from the SNHU Arena in Manchester as the Cyclones will seek redemption against this Monarchs squad.

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