By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
Over two months since their last game, the Division I Cyclones started 2021 on the right foot. They scored two goals in each period and never trailed en route to a 6-4 win against the Missouri State Ice Bears on Friday night in Springfield, Missouri.
Forward Ray Zimmerman thought the team did well under the circumstances and the mistakes are fixable as the Cyclones knock off the rust from the long break.
“We were a little rusty, but overall for our first game back, I thought we played very well,” Zimmerman said.
The Cyclones got the scoring started early in the first period. Andrew Lee got the puck to Stuart Pearson, who found Matty Moran. Moran’s wrister from just outside the slot made it past the glove of Missouri State goalie Brady Griffin for the top-shelf goal at 2:29.
The shot advantage was heavily in favor of the Cyclones in the first ten minutes of the game. Head Coach Jason Fairman saw the importance of the fast start as some of the team had not been able to skate during the break.
“It was like starting the season over for us,” Fairman said. “It was important to have a strong first period, particularly the first ten minutes and I think we did that.”
The Ice Bears found a tying goal soon after the midway point of the first frame. Alex Rubin got the puck to Hunter Cooley, who was in the faceoff circle to Cyclone goalie Greg Moon’s right-hand side. Cooley’s shot found its way over Moon’s shoulder and under the crossbar at 11:34.
The Cyclones took back the lead at the 14:06 mark. Moran got the puck to Austin Keil. Griffin blocked Keil’s first attempt from just outside the crease but after a scramble for the puck, Keil poked it in for his third goal on the season.
The referees had a quick conference to debate a possible goaltender interference, but they stood with the call on the ice. The score sat at 2-1 in favor of the Cyclones going into the first intermission.
“I think we got a little bit too lax after scoring first but then we got back together and responded very well after they scored,” said Assistant Captain Joey Marcuccilli. “We always got a goal after them so it was good for our momentum to not have them score twice in a row on us.”
Marcuccilli started the scoring in the second period with a goal at 1:19 to give the Cyclones a 3-1 lead. Brooks Mitzel won a faceoff, and the puck went straight to Marcuccilli. His shot from the point took a slight deflection off of the stick of an Ice Bear defenseman just outside the crease, and the puck trickled five-hole.
Missouri State found another goal of its own just a few minutes later. Jacob Wiethaupt had the puck just above the goal line outside of the crease to Moon’s right-hand side. Even with the narrow angle, Wiethaupt got the puck past the stick of Moon at 3:45. Jake Kopinski and Derek Smith tallied the assists.
The score sat at 3-2 for several minutes until the Cyclones found themselves on their first power play of the night. Ryan Nelson got the puck to Payton McSharry, who was in the faceoff circle to Griffin’s left. McSharry’s cross-ice pass found Zimmerman for the one-timer at 6:11.
Missouri State added one more goal in the second period. An Ice Bear forward raced toward the Cyclone net with the puck. The shot was high and bounced off the glass behind Moon. After a failed attempt of another Ice Bear to knock the puck down, Henrik Löhman found himself with the puck just outside the crease and tapped it in at 13:13 just before the net came off its moorings.
The referees had another quick conference to debate a possible high stick in the attempt to hit the puck down, but the call on the ice stood to make the score 4-3.
“We played together as a team. We battled hard. We did a lot of things right,” Marcuccilli said. “We still have a long way to go coming back from break, but I think we’re on the right path.”
In the third period, the Cyclones continued the trend of the first two periods by scoring first once again. Keil had the puck along the near boards and fired a pass to Conner Hunt, who was at the blue line on the opposite side of the ice. Hunt carried the puck into the zone, and his wrister beat Griffin glove side at 6:35 to give Iowa State a 5-3 advantage. The goal marks Hunt’s first in the Cardinal and Gold.
The Cyclones had strong starts to all three periods, according to Fairman.
“We followed the game plan from the start of each period,” Fairman said. “I don’t think it should’ve been as close as it was but we were able to gut it out and get the victory.”
Zimmerman added another power-play goal at 9:46 in the third to increase the lead to 6-3. Nelson found Zimmerman on the backside. Zimmerman collected the puck and fired a wrister past Griffin’s glove for the top-shelf goal.
Löhman added the final goal of the game at 13:06. An Iowa State defenseman deflected a pass at the top of the zone, but the puck still found its way to Löhman, who was alone in the low slot. His shot beat Moon’s glove to bring the score to 6-4.
The Cyclones finished the night with six penalty minutes and were two for four on the power play. The Ice Bears had a total of 30 penalty minutes as Mark Capkovic got a misconduct and game misconduct late in the second period which led to his ejection. Missouri State ended the night one for two on the power play.
Iowa State had a 33-20 shot advantage on the night. Moon recorded 16 saves in his seventh win of the season.
Zimmerman said the resiliency of the team helped them bounce back after Missouri State found goals to get it close.
“We don’t really get down on ourselves. We just keep on playing our game and it’s been tending to work for us,” Zimmerman said. “[…] We don’t get rattled if the other team scores which is a good sign.”
The Cyclones (8-1) and Ice Bears (0-1) meet again at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Jordan Valley Ice Park. A broadcast is available through WebSports Radio (link: https://www.youtube.com/user/wsrlive/live).
“Anytime you can get a win on the road, especially in the first game of the second semester after not playing for two months, we’re going to be pleased,” Fairman said. “We’ve got to clean some things up. For the most part, though, we had a pretty good effort.”