Thursday night made life a whole lot harder for the Cincinnati Cyclones (27-27-6). They fell hard to their East Division foes, the Greenville Road Warriors (32-27-4) by a final of 5-2. This marked the Cyclones’ sixth loss in their last seven games. As far as playoffs go, as of now, the Cyclones are on the outside and are in desperate need of two points. If there was ever a better time to right the ship, it would be now. The Clones cannot depend on other teams to help them out forever. It’s time to control their own destiny and start racking up the W’s.
Thursday’s contest went downhill and downhill fast. Former Cyclone, Anthony Luciani got things going early drawing first blood with an absolute cannon blast on the powerplay that went just two inches inside the crossbar to give Greenville the early 1-0 lead. It took until the 16 minute mark of the 1st for the Cyclones to answer back as Garrett Noonan threw one towards the net, it pinballed through skates and through the legs of Jason Missiaen for the equalizer. The 2nd period is when things really got ugly. About 7 minutes in, Thomas Frazee was able to win the puck cleanly off the faceoff right to the tape of Michael St. Croix who snapped it through the legs of Rob Madore for the 2-1 Road Warriors lead. You want a clear example of how the puck luck has been for Cincinnati lately? Greenville’s 3rd goal does a good job of showing it. Mike Banwell ripped one through traffic, it took a bounce off bodies right to the stick of Josh Nicholls who had nothing but a wide open net where Madore had absolutely zero chance of getting to it to make it 3-1 Road Warriors. Cyclones were able to show a little bit of life in the late stages of the 3rd as the Cyclones struck on a must-score powerplay when Branden Garcel redirected a Shayne Taker point shot home to draw Cincinnati within one at 3-2. The Road Warriors would quickly stifle any Cincinnati hope of a comeback as Thomas Frazee was able to bury a 4th chance opportunity after Madore made back-to-back-to-back phenomenal saves to make it 4-2 Greenville. Anthony Luciani would seal it with an empty netter for his 2nd of the night to make it 5-2 Greenville. Madore once again stood on his head stopping 41 shots in the defeat.
As a result, there are only two playoff spots left in the North Division. Evansville is mathematically eliminated. Fort Wayne and Toledo clinched spots with Cincinnati’s loss. That leaves Kalamazoo, Cincinnati, Wheeling, and Indy who are fighting for the Final two spots. Both teams the Cyclones are in a dog fight with for 4th place are in action tonight. Wheeling is making the venture to Elmira. Indy will be down in Charleston facing the red hot South Carolina Stingrays. In other words, the Cyclones are reaching “must win” territory tonight in Greenville. Worst case scenario, Indy and Wheeling both win and Cincinnati loses; suddenly the Clones would be in 6th and even further out of the playoff picture. Let’s hope that indeed will not be the case.
The Cyclones are going to be getting some power between the pipes back. Roberto Luongo has returned to the Florida Panthers from his injury. And if you look at the Panthers’ website, Sam Brittain is not listed. This would leave me to believe Brittain is indeed on his way back to the Queen City.
Players to watch Friday night:
Cincinnati – F Jack Downing – In four games with the Cyclones, he has four goals and two assists for six points and has landed on the score sheet in all but one of those games.
Greenville – F Anthony Luciani – He is the Road Warriors’ point leader, most of his damage being done in Toledo, but, has three goals and one assist in four games with Greenville.
We get underway at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville on Friday night at 7:00p.m. EST as the season series between Greenville and Cincinnati concludes and the Cyclones look to get their first victory of the season against this Greenville team.