GREENVILLE, SC – The Cincinnati Cyclones, in danger of losing their fourth consecutive game, were down in Greenville for their second and final meeting of the season with the Swamp Rabbits on Friday night. The two teams met previously on Thursday night, where the Cyclones ultimately fell by a score of 4-3.
The Cyclones were trying to avoid getting swept in the season-series by Greenville for the second year in a row. Last season, the then Greenville Road Warriors won all four meetings against the Cyclones.
If you are one that argues there needs to be more scoring in hockey, this game would be at the top of your list as there were a grand total of 13 goals scored.
Things got off to a bit of a rough start for Cincinnati, as Josh Nicholls bats home a rebound on a Jack Combs shot just 57 seconds in to put the Swamp Rabbits up 1-0. Just minutes later, Rob Kwiet would dance around a Cincinnati d-man, and blow one under the arm of Cyclones goaltender Brad Thiessen to make it 2-0. Exactly halfway thru the frame, Cincinnati would answer back with a power play goal. Jack Downing threw it on net, and Nick Huard going hard to the net, was able to poke in the loose puck to draw Cincinnati within a goal. At 11:06, Cincinnati would even the score as Mike Hammond would split the Greenville defense, walk in and beat Greenville netminder, Jeff Malcolm over the shoulder for his first pro goal to draw things even at 2. Late in the period, the Rabbits would add two more. First, Cyclones got caught scrambling, Sean Escobedo was able to find a wide open Kodie Curran who bombed it past Thiessen to put Greenville back ahead 3-2. Just over a minute later, on the power play, Scott Fleming threw it towards the net, it banked off of Ben Schmidt’s skate to put the Swamp Rabbits ahead 4-2 after 20 minutes.
It would be a short night for Brad Thiessen as he was relieved by Brandon Whitney to start the 2nd period. Thiessen made 12 saves on 16 shots.
Greenville would make it a three goal game just 5:21 into the 2nd period. Rob Kwiet put it on goal, it squeaked through Whitney, and Jordan Knackstedt was able to guide it just over the line to make it 5-2 Greenville.
Now, the fun begins…
In the latter half of the middle frame, the man they call “The Mayor” would get his first goal of the season. Riley Weselowski unleashed a bomb from the blue line, beat Malcolm cleanly to pull the ‘Clones within 5-3. With 0.01 seconds left on the clock, Steve Weinstein would pick up a loose rebound, and just barely beat the horn to make it a 5-4 hockey game.
Midway through the 3rd, Cincinnati would swallow what appeared to be the dagger. Nicholls got it to Knackstedt who was able to put the finishing touches on the play, and make it 6-4 Greenville. At 11:06 of the 3rd, Cincinnati would receive a monumental 5-on-3 power play. Just one minute into it, Zach Budish went cross-ice for Huard, who buried his 2nd of the night to make it a one goal game again at 6-5.
In the dying minutes of regulation, the former Greenville Road Warrior would make his presence known. On a major penalty kill, Andrew Yogan picked the pocket of a Greenville d-man, walked in on a clean breakaway, went forehand to backhand and roofed his 1st goal of the season to pull things even at 6-6 on the shorthanded tally.
Finally, in overtime, the Cyclones complete comeback, similar to the one that happened against them in Wheeling a month ago. The Mayor would strike again as Joe Wilson got it to Weselowski at the top of the circle who went bar down to win it for Cincinnati.
Your final would be 7-6 Cincinnati in overtime.
Whitney made 26 saves on the 28 shots he faced in the victory. It was the first time the Cyclones have beaten Greenville since Game 6 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, a series that Cincinnati won 4-2.
Cincinnati now sits at 11-5-2-2, just one point behind the Quad City Mallards for 1st place in the Midwest Division. The Cyclones have two games in hand on the Mallards.
Cincinnati is off for the week before a home-at-home next weekend with the Evansville IceMen. Next Friday, the Cyclones will visit Evansville, while next Saturday, the two teams will again hook up in Cincinnati.