Fan Appreciation Weekend is among us as the Cincinnati Cyclones (29-29-9) will close out the home side of the 2014-2015 regular season schedule with a pair of crucial North Division games. On Friday night, the Indy Fuel (27-29-10) will make their way into Downtown Cincinnati for the final time this season as the season series will come to its conclusion.
As always, a quick recap of the previous game in case you were one of the 2,000+ on hand Tuesday night that witnessed the Cyclones fry the division-leading Toledo Walleye in Overtime.
For a team that has had its fair share of struggles such as the Cyclones, they put on a pretty darn good show on Tuesday, aside from maybe the final five minutes of regulation… but, more on that later. Through 40 minutes of action, the Cyclones were pretty stable defensively as they held the powerhouse Walleye to just 12 shots. In fact, up to that point, despite the low number of shots, Rob Madore and Jeff Lerg both were making unreal saves. If they had food labels on the back of their masks, I’m sure it’d say “100% brick wall, 0% human.” We didn’t see any scoring until the 3rd period. About four minutes in, Josh McFadden would break the scoreless deadlock. Some excellent puck movement in the offensive zone, David MacDonald gave it to McFadden who gave it to Geoff Irwin who gave it right back to McFadden, who weaved his way into the slot and beat Lerg over the shoulder to make it 1-0 Cincinnati. Just a couple minutes later, the captain would strike as David MacDonald would add some evidence to the theory “Throw it at the net, good things happen.” A dump-in play had the puck bounce to the hash marks of the right wing circle, MacDonald found it and threw a seemingly harmless wrist shot towards the net that beat Lerg upstairs to make it 2-0 Cincinnati.
If you’ve been paying any attention to how things have been going for Cincinnati as of late, I bet you can guess what happened next with only two minutes left in regulation. Yup. The seemingly inevitable 3rd period collapse. Within 30 seconds apart, the Walleye struck twice to even the game at 2-2. First, it was the former Cyclone A.J. Jenks banging home a loose rebound on the 3rd or 4th chance effort. Then almost the same exact play, this time with Troy Schwab crashing the net and banging home a rebound to draw the game even.
The Schwab and Jenks tallies would send the game into Overtime. Fortunately, things would end rather quickly. Brett Wysopal went coast-to-coast, dumped it behind the Toledo cage, chased it down and won the puck battle along the boards and found Geoff Irwin in the slot for the easy tap in that sent the Cyclones home winners and guaranteed them sprinkles on their post-game victory ice cream.
With only five games left on the slate for the regular season, these two home games this weekend are must-wins. But, let’s take it one at a time. Friday night, we see the Indy Fuel come to Cincinnati for the season series finale. Statistically speaking, the Cyclones have dominated the Fuel posting a 5-2-1 against Indy in the first 8 games the two teams played. But, similar to the Evansville IceMen, who the Cyclones will play Saturday night, this Indy team is one you cannot take lightly. As history has shown, you lay back for even a second and the Fuel are going to make you pay for it. To make things even more intense, the Fuel are currently 3 points behind the Cyclones for 5th place in the North Division and still have a decent shot of making the postseason. And if all goes as planned, the Cyclones could find themselves back in playoff position by weekend’s end.
Playoff Race heading into Friday night’s matchup:
- x – Toledo Walleye (46-14-7) 99 points – Games Remaining: 5
- x – Fort Wayne Komets (45-16-6) 96 points – Games Remaining: 5
- Kalamazoo Wings (33-28-5) 71 points – Games Remaining: 6 – Magic Number: 6
- Wheeling Nailers (33-31-2) 68 points – Games Remaining: 6 – Magic Number: 9
CINCINNATI CYCLONES (29-29-9) 67 points – Games Remaining: 5 – Magic Number: 10
- INDY FUEL (27-29-10) 64 points – Games Remaining: 6 – Magic Number: 13
- Evansville IceMen (14-45-8) 36 points – Games Remaining: 5 – Eliminated from Playoff Contention
A monumental tilt gets underway at U.S. Bank Arena in Downtown Cincinnati Friday night at 7:35pm EST. Hope you’ll join us for $1 Pizza, Hot Dogs, Soda, and great prize giveaways all night long. If you can’t be there in person, I’ll have updates on Twitter @SinBinCyclones.