By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
The No.5 Cyclones (10-7-1) will once again be at home this weekend as they take on the McKendree University Bearcats (3-3).
Forward C.J. Banser knows the Cyclones need to be ready.
“You can’t take anybody lightly,” Banser said. “We have the same mentality for every single game. We’ve got to play hard and play our systems.”
The Cyclones are winless in their last six games. Four of those games were against No. 1 Lindenwood. The other two were against No. 4 Minot State.
“McKendree is a dangerous team,” said Head Coach Jason Fairman. “They might be catching us at a time where we’re lacking a little confidence, so this is going to be a big weekend for us.”
After coming off of their first scoreless season this season, both Fairman and Banser want to see the Cyclones have better play in the opponent’s zone.
“We’ve got to finish,” Fairman said. “We’ve got to be hungrier around the net.”
The series brings about a first between these teams. This is the first time the two programs will meet on the ice at the Division I level.
McKendree made the jump to Division I play in the 2019-20 season as it joined the newly formed Midwest College Hockey Conference (MCH) along with Waldorf, Midland, Illinois State, Northern Illinois and Maryville. The Bearcats won the inaugural regular season.
Fairman said it is always good to play different teams, but the team is focused on itself rather than the opponent.
“If we play our game, we’re usually pretty successful,” Fairman said.
Of the Bearcats’ six games this season, two were against the Waldorf Warriors and four against the now-No. 6 Maryville Saints. They swept Waldorf and went 1-3 against Maryville. The Bearcats most recent series occurred on Feb. 19-20 as their only other scheduled series since then was canceled.
McKendree averages 3.8 goals per game and 3.0 goals against so far this season. The Cyclones enter the series with averages of 3.5 goals per game and 2.56 goals against.
The puck drop is 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena. A limited number of tickets are available at the door. The game will be streamed through Stretch (link: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/isuhockey/).
“There’s only so much time left so guys gotta come together,” Banser said. “[…] We’ve gotta want it as a team and have fun with it.”