CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Cincinnati Cyclones (31-21-2-0) faceoff against the Quad City Mallards (20-32-3-1) for their annual Pucks & Pups Night.
Cincinnati head into the contest after earning their first win against the Indy Fuel this season. Winston Day Chief recorded a natural hat trick en route to the 4-3 victory. After going down 2-0 in the first, the Cyclones came ready to close the gap in the second. Just over five minutes into the frame, Day Chief notched his 17th of the season to cut the Fuel’s lead in half. Seven minutes later, he evened the score at two apiece. Brandon McNally crossed to the middle, taking a shot on net with Day Chief waiting at the doorstep to quickly put the puck past the open side of Matt Tomkins. The forward would finish off his natural hat trick with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Quad City comes into US Bank Arena with a win last night under their belt, their first victory since defeating Toledo on Feb. 18. The Mallards took down the Utah Grizzlies in a high-scoring 7-6 shootout. 13 out of 18 QC skaters recorded a point, four of which having multi-point nights (1g,1a -all).
In their seven meetings this season, Cincy has dominated the matchup. They’ve gone 6-1-0-0, outscoring QC 36-24.
Although the Mallards are out of the playoff race, every game is crucial as the race to mid-April is everso close between the Cyclones and three other clubs. In a race this tight, one night can make a big difference.
For example, before last night’s games were played, the Central Division looked like this:
- CIN (62)
- KAL (59)
- IND (57)
- KC (56)
However, after Cincy’s regulation win over Indy, Kalamazoo’s regulation loss to Brampton, and Kansas City’s regulation win over Ft. Wayne, the standings now sit at:
- CIN (64)
- KAL (59)
- KC (58)
- IND (57)
In one night, the Cyclones went from a three-point gap between themselves and the team below to a five-point cushion. And thanks to Cincy’s victory coming over Indy, KC’s own win allowed them to move up a slot. Although this may not seem huge now, as the month of March goes on every single game will count. Instances like these will add up to great reward for some teams, while the others will be left out of the playoffs.
Translation: Despite the fact the Mallards don’t have a playoff chance, a loss against them is still not an option.