By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
The No. 9 Cyclones (13-7-2) travel to Missouri this weekend for the Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL) tournament. This year’s format is a round-robin instead of bracket play as just three teams — Lindenwood, Ohio and Iowa State — are competing.
Despite the different format, the objective remains the same.
“We’re taking it like it’s a regular conference championship and our goal is to win it,” Head Coach Jason Fairman said.
Conner Hunt knows the team needs to clean up a couple of details but said the team is confident heading into the weekend.
“It’d be ignorant to say we don’t have things that we don’t need to work on — we definitely do — but I think that this team is definitely capable of winning it all,” Hunt said.
No. 2 Lindenwood Lions and No. 6 Ohio Bobcats start the tournament with a game on Friday night. The Cyclones then play Ohio on Saturday night followed by Lindenwood on Sunday afternoon.
The Bobcats began their season in the first week of February and managed to get in 18 games. Their 4-14 record does not show who they are, according to Fairman. Of Ohio’s four wins, three are against top-ranked teams in this week’s rankings — No. 1 Adrian, No. 2 Lindenwood and No. 4 Liberty. The losses are between those three teams plus one to No. 3 Robert Morris.
The win over Lindenwood handed the Lions their only loss this season so far.
“We’re not taking them lightly,” Fairman said. “[…] We’re going to plan as if it’s the regular Ohio team that we play in a normal year. I expect a tough game.”
Ohio averages 2.5 goals per game and 4.0 goals against per game this season. Hunt echoed Fairman’s thoughts and said it is going to be a hard-fought game.
“We can’t take them lightly. We can’t take any team lightly from here on out,” Hunt said. “We’ve got to go in there with the right mindset — ready to battle, ready to play.”
In a normal season, the conference rivals play four games with each hosting two. However, this is the first time these two teams will meet this season.
Iowa State and Lindenwood played their home and away series like usually this year with the Lions winning all four. Three of the games finished with a goal difference of two or less.
“They’re arguably the best team right now. We’ve shown that we can play right there with them,” Hunt said. “We just need to go out there with confidence and play like we know we can.”
The Cyclones take the ice for a puck drop at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday against Ohio. Game two is at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday against Lindenwood. All games for the tournament will be streamed on the GLVC Sports Network (link: https://glvcsn.com/lindenwood/).