By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
The No. 5 Cyclones scored a season-high nine goals en route to a 9-1 win on Friday night over the McKendree University Bearcats (3-4).
“We needed that for our confidence,” said Head Coach Jason Fairman. “I thought we were sloppy at times, but overall we did a number of things well, so it’s a good starting point to get the proverbial monkey off our back.”
The Cyclones opened the scoring at 4:14 into the first period. Max Kamper gained the zone and left the puck for Everett Bestland, who was at the top of the faceoff circle. Bestland fired a shot, and Brooks Mitzel deflected the puck past the leg of McKendree goalie Wes Werner.
After recent results, Fairman said it was crucial for the Cyclones to play well early in the period.
“We’ve been back on our heels for a handful of games and it was important to get a good start and get that first goal,” Fairman said.
The Cyclones doubled their lead a few minutes later, Chris Ciolek had the puck on the odd-man rush. Ciolek found Eli Kopish in the low slot. Kopish collected the puck and beat Werner’s glove at 8:17.
Kamper said it was good to see the Cyclones start scoring, adding that having shots from the point and chances in front of the net were a big part of the game.
“It just started clicking for us,” Kamper said. “We started getting more shots.”
The Cyclones found one more goal in the opening period on their first power play of the night. Max Olson and Ryan Nelson had the puck at the point. Olson sent the puck over to Ray Zimmerman, who was at the center of the far faceoff circle. Zimmerman’s one-timer beat Werner’s glove for the goal at 10:45 — just 14 seconds into the power play.
The Cyclones finished the first period one for two on the power play but picked up a penalty late in the first period. They skated down a man for the remainder of the period and the first 31 seconds of the second period. Soon after the advantage, the Bearcats found a goal of their own.
Brian Richardson had the puck behind the net and found an open Chris Noble in the slot. Noble’s wrister beat Cyclone goalie Greg Moon five-hole at 1:08.
“I was disappointed that they got that goal — which was a miscue,” Fairman said. “Most goals scored against are but I would’ve liked to have had that back.”
Kopish saw the team respond well to the goal.
“A few times this year, we’ve had a tendency to get down after something like that, especially after we’re playing so well,” Kopish said. “I think we did a good job of pushing through it and getting back to what was working for us.”
After a chunk of zone time following the McKendree goal, the Cyclones regained their three-goal lead at 6:33. Ciolek won a faceoff and the puck found Joey Marcuccilli at the point. Marcuccilli’s wrister made it through traffic and beat Werner’s blocker.
Like Kopish, Kamper also saw the Cyclones bounce back quickly after the Bearcat goal.
“We just kept going,” Kamper said. “We didn’t let it affect our game.”
Less than three minutes after Marcuccilli’s goal, the lead increased again. Stuart Pearson circled behind the net and found Andrew Lee on the edge of the crease. Lee poked the puck past Werner at 9:04 to give the Cyclones a 5-1 lead.
“It was good to see us finish,” Fairman said. “That’s been our problem lately; we haven’t had a hunger around the net.”
The goal prompted a goalie change as Kayne Paquet entered the game before the ensuing faceoff. Werner stopped 15 shots for a save percentage of 0.750.
The Cyclones again found another goal less than three minutes later, just after their third power play of the night expired. Mitzel got the puck to Kamper in the near faceoff circle. Kamper wove his way into the low slot and fired a shot past Pasquet’s glove at 12:04.
Just 42 seconds later, Pearson tallied a goal to bring the score to 7-1. Pearson received the puck in the neutral zone, carried it into the McKendree zone and fired a wrister from the low slot past the leg of Pasquet.
A few extra shoves started occurring after the whistle as the period progressed. Bearcat Otasowie Omoregie picked up two 10-minute game misconduct penalties at 14:04 which led to his disqualification.
Pearson’s goal concluded the second-period scoring as the Cyclones tallied four goals in less than six minutes. They did not score on either power play in the period but killed their lone penalty to maintain their lead.
Continuing their play from the first two periods, the Cyclones registered a lot of zone time throughout the third. The final two goals of the night came within the last several minutes of the game.
Kamper tallied his second goal of the night at 15:06. Kamper took the puck from the Cyclone zone and deep into the Bearcat zone. He dragged the puck across the crease and slipped a backhand shot past Pasquet’s leg just as the 4-on-4 action came to an end. Will Kutch and Joey Marcuccilli tallied the assists.
The final goal of the night came on the Cyclones’ final power play. Nelson had the puck at the point and found Pearson in the far faceoff circle. Pearson quickly got the puck to C.J. Banser in the near faceoff circle. Banser put the puck into the open net as Pasquet had not yet slid across to cover the angle.
The Cyclones outshot the Bearcats 42-17 as Moon made 16 saves for a percentage of 0.941. Pasquet finished the game with a percentage of 0.818 as he recorded 18 saves.
McKendree did not convert on either of its two power plays. Iowa State finished the game scoring on two of their five advantages.
“It was overall just a good performance to get us back into the win column,” Kopish said.
Game two of the series is 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena. A limited number of tickets are available at the door. The game will also be streamed through Stretch (link: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/isuhockey/).
“We need a complete weekend,” Fairman said. “We need a repeat performance of [Friday’s game].”