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Photo courtesy of Shawn Conkle

On Friday night, the Cincinnati Cyclones (28-28-8) got a very good start to a very crucial weekend, knocking off the Evansville IceMen by a final of 4-2. The three-in-three continues Saturday night as the Cyclones once again welcome the Fort Wayne Komets (43-16-6) into U.S. Bank Arena.

If you were with us on Friday, it was a monumental victory for the ‘Clones as the newest face to the team made an excellent first impression on the Cincinnati faithful. Jack Combs started just nine minutes into the first as Josh McFadden’s point shot rebounded off of Evansville goaltender, Branden Komm right to the stick of Jack Combs who backhanded his first goal of the season in a Cincinnati uniform over the shoulder of Komm to make it 1-0 Cincinnati. I’m not going to lie. As awful of a season as it has been for the Evansville. Al Sims has done an excellent job recruiting rookies who could possibly be on the team next year. Proof of that is the way the IceMen responded after falling down early. Evansville had took over and dictated the pace for quite some time until they finally struck late in the first frame capitalized on a Cincinnati defensive miscue. A failed clearing attempt led to a mad scramble in front of Cincinnati goaltender, Rob Madore. The IceMen got about 4-5 whacks at it before rookie forward, Luke Greiner tapped it home to even the game at 1.

The middle frame saw a bit of the same at the beginning. The IceMen once again had the Cyclones on their heels and took their first lead of the hockey game early. Jarret Lukin snuck his way into the Cincinnati defensive zone, Joe Zarbo had shop set up perfectly in front of the net, centering pass on the money and Zarbo was there for the easy tap in for the 2-1 IceMen lead. After that, Evansville’s time in the spotlight was done. A little over a minute later, Jack Combs found a loose puck behind the net, and wrapped it around, and stuffed his 2nd of the night home through the legs of Komm to pull the game even at 2. But, Combs’ night was not done there. In the final minutes of the 2nd, The IceMen turned the puck over in their own zone to a very dangerous man in Jack Downing. All alone in front of the net, he unselfishly fed it cross-crease to Combs for the tap in, and for the completion of the hat trick.

Things would wrap up rather quickly in the 3rd period as about five minutes into the frame, Jack Downing’s first offering was denied, rebound came loose to David Pacan who cashed in for the dagger to make it a 4-2 Cincinnati game which would eventually  become our final score. Cincinnati continues to dominate the IceMen as their record improves to 9-1-0 against Evansville with one more game left in the season series.

Next up in this crucial weekend: the Fort Wayne Komets. So far this season, the Cyclones are 1-1-2 against the Komets; 1-0-2 on home ice. Fort Wayne has already clinched a spot in the 2015 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Similar to how Evansville played, the Komets are looking to play the role of spoiler and prevent the Cyclones from making the postseason. The key to success is keeping the puck away from the “Cyclone killers” known as Mike Embach and Shawn Szydlowski. In case you missed it the other weekend, Szydlowski had a 5, yes, FIVE goal night against Missouri. To avoid the same fate, the Cyclones have to shut him down and keep him off the scoresheet.

They absolutely cannot afford to do what they did the last time these two teams hooked up. It was up in Fort Wayne a few weeks ago, the Cyclones grabbed a late 2-1 lead. They went into a defensive shell and all of a sudden, Fort Wayne hung back-to-back goals on them and won 3-2. You’re not going to beat this Komet team playing 20 and 40 minutes of hockey. You’ve got to put your foot on the gas and not let up. What will be interesting is seeing how Fort Wayne’s infamous “money line” of Mike Embach-Shawn Szydlowski-Aaron Clarke will pair up against a red hot Cincinnati line consisting of Jack Combs-David Pacan-Jack Downing.

Playoff Race Update: In addition to the Cyclones’ 4-2 win over Evansville. Indy fell to Reading 3-2, and Wheeling was able to knockoff Fort Wayne 2-1. As a result, the Cyclones and Nailers are still deadlocked for the 4th and final playoff spot in the North with 64 points each. Indy on the other hand, despite being still within reaching distance of a playoff spot, are slowly beginning to drift away. The Fuel now sit in 6th with 61 points. In the final eight games of the regular season, the Cyclones will meet up with the Nailers and Fuel both just one more time each. The game against Wheeling will come on Sunday afternoon in West Virginia, which without a doubt is the most important game of this crucial weekend.

We get set to go Saturday night from U.S. Bank Arena at 7:35pm EST. Join us in Downtown Cincinnati for Wiener Dog Races & more!

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