CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Cyclones (34-23-2-0) face off against the Indy Fuel (30-28-2-1) for their first of two meetings at US Bank Arena within the next four days. Puck drops at 7:35 p.m.
The two Central Division rivals rematch after eventful weekends for both teams. Last Friday, March 9, Indy hosted the famous Nickelodeon Night during which the Fuel donned full Spongebob Squarepants uniforms, while the Cyclones sported a Patrick Star combination. Yellow jerseys and all, the Fuel took down the Cyclones in a 5-2 contest. Indy’s Matheson Iacopelli recorded two goals en route to the victory. Former Cyclone Jaynen Rissling also had a two point night with a pair of helpers. In his first game with Cincinnati, Brock Beukeboom put in the first goal of the night for his new team towards the end of the first period.
Indy would go on to sweep the rest of its opponents that weekend, topping Kalamazoo 4-3 in overtime, and Toledo 7-4 in regulation.
Cincinnati’s luck veered in the near opposite direction over the weekend, as it dropped two out of three contests. Saturday night, they were handed a 4-1 loss by the Fort Wayne Komets, although, the score was far from the most notable part of the evening.
Towards the end of the first period, Alexander Taulien fired up a slapshot which hit a falling Dominic Zombo in the back of his unguarded neck. After laying motionless on the ice for several minutes, the second-year Cyclone was stretchered off the ice and sent to the hospital. He would not rejoin the team for its game the next night in Brampton. More can be read about Zombo’s incident and how he’s doing here.
Tonight’s matchup is big for both teams, as Indy continue to fight for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. Thus far, only the top two teams in the division have officially locked down spots in the post-season. Cincinnati currently holds the third place position with 70 points, followed by the Kansas City Mavericks and Kalamazoo Wings who each possess 64 points.
Only one point behind the gridlocked duo, the Fuel could gain much-needed traction with a win tonight. If the Mavericks fall to the Tulsa Oilers tonight and the Fuel are victorious, they will be in sole possession of fourth place in the division. Win or lose, Indy is certain to be hopeful for a Kalamazoo loss tomorrow night as Cincinnati makes its way up to Michigan for their final meeting of the season. Despite the Fuel being in a more desperate position than the Cyclones, until Cincinnati has officially made it into the ECHL playoffs, every game is a must-win.
Since their last meeting, the Cyclones and Fuel have both had noteworthy roster movement. For Indy, Iacopelli was recalled by the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday, March 11. Yesterday, they signed defenseman Andrew DeBrincat to an ATO (amateur tryout). as the older brother of the Chicago Blackhawks 2016 second round pick and current rookie standout for the Fuel’s NHL-affiliate, Alex DeBrincat, Andrew comes to Indy after wrapping up a four-year collegiate career at American International College. The 24 year old Michigan native recorded one goal and 12 assists (13pts.) in 37 games for the Yellow Jackets.
With by far the most movement between the two squads, Cincinnati has signed three players, received three from the Rochester Americans, released a forward, lost Jonas Johansson to a call up to their AHL-affiliate, and welcomed a forward via trade with the Worcester Railers. To recap:
ADD: (3/9) Brock Beukeboom-D, Darren McCormick-F; (3/10) Michael Prapavessis-D; (3/11) Alex Kile-F, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda-F, Vaclav Karabacek-F; (3/16) Paul Berrafato-G
DELETE: (3/13) Jonas Johansson-G; (3/15) Alexander Taulien-F
Though the team has seen a lot of new faces, each one is having an immediate impact in all areas of the ice.
Beukeboom comes to the Cyclones after being traded from the Worcester Railers at the ECHL Trade Deadline on March 8. In his first full season of professional hockey, the defenseman has recorded two goals and nine assists (11pts.) in 41 games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and Railers. In his first three games with Cincinnati, he’s came out firing from the blueline with a goal and an assist. Son of Stanley Cup Champion Jeff Beukeboom, the Ontario native wrapped up a career at the University of Prince Edward Island where he was teammates with current Cyclone Spencer Metcalfe for three years.
Signing an SPC with Cincinnati on March 9 from the Fayetteville Marksmen, McCormick has played in 42 SPHL games this season. Before getting the chance in the ECHL, he notched 36 points (22g-14a) in 42 games. The forward made his debut with Cincinnati last weekend in Indy and went on to play all three games that weekend.
Fresh off a four-year career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (R.P.I.), Prapavessis was signed to an ATO on March 10. The 22 year old was the Dallas Stars’ fourth round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Teammates with Cyclones goaltender Jason Kasdorf at R.P.I. for two years, Cincinnati hopes to gain add stability to its blue line with his addition. In the 2017-18 season, Prapavessis tied his career high in points (19) from 2015-16 and ended his collegiate career with 62 points combined all four years.
Lastly, Cincinnati announced the signing of goaltender Paul Berrafato on Friday morning. The 24 year old Buffalo, NY native recently completed his fourth year in net for the Holy Cross College Crusaders. Teammates with Cyclones forward Mike Barrett for three seasons, he comes into the ECHL after posting a .919 save percentage and 2.57 goals against average in his senior season. The addition of Berrafato fills the gap made by Johansson after he was recalled to the Americans on March 13.