By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
The Division I Cyclones (14-9-2) picked up a win in their first game of the 2021 American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I National Tournament. Iowa State defeated the Aquinas College Saints (8-6-1) by a score of 5-3 on Saturday night.
After a back-and-forth start to the period, the Cyclones found themselves on the first power play of the game for either side. The opening goal came less than 20 seconds later. Stuart Pearson circled behind the net and lifted the puck past the glove of Aquinas goalie Roman Malkov for the top-shelf goal at 15:10. Ray Zimmerman and Max Olson tallied the assists.
“I thought we were flat in the first period,” said Head Coach Jason Fairman. “We were fortunate to be up 1-0.”
The Cyclones’ advantage ended up being the lone power play for either team in the first period. Iowa State held a 13-8 shot advantage heading into the second frame.
The lead increased to 2-0 at 4:31 in the second. Pearson had the puck behind the net and made his way to the bottom edge of the far faceoff circle. Malkov saved Pearson’s shot, but Andrew Lee poked it in from just outside the crease.
Aquinas got its first goal of the game just over two minutes later. Luke Richesin fired a wrister from the top of the near faceoff circle. Despite several players between him and the net, the puck made its way through the traffic and past Cyclone goalie Greg Moon at 6:55.
Iowa State restored its two-goal lead just over a minute later. During a scramble for the puck in front of the net, Brooks Mitzel got his stick on it and poked it past Malkov for the unassisted goal at 8:05.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” Fairman said. “I thought we responded well to our discussion between periods, and I thought, ‘Okay, this is the Cyclone Hockey team I know and love.’”
The score sat at 3-1 for the next several minutes. Late in the period, Iowa State had an odd-man rush. Malkov stopped the shot, and the Saints made their way back down the ice. Just seconds later, Aquinas had a faceoff. The puck found Mason Stewart at the point. His shot took a deflection from an open Brandon Rozema in the low slot for the goal at 16:55.
Two minutes later, the Saints tied the game 3-3 before the second period came to a close. Daniel Nelson’s pass from the near faceoff circle to the far faceoff circle found Stewart. His wrister snuck past Moon at 18:57 as he slid across the face of the goal.
Neither team picked up a penalty in the second period. The Cyclones held a 12-10 shot advantage, and the game entered the final frame with the teams knotted up at three goals apiece.
In the first half of the third period, the Cyclones picked up their first two penalties of the night. They killed both to help the game remain tied. Allowing a goal could have spelled trouble, according to Fairman.
“That could’ve changed the momentum of the game,” Fairman said.
Iowa State then had a power play of its own and once again capitalized. Pearson had the puck below the goal line and found Ryan Nelson at the top of the far faceoff circle. Nelson’s one-timer beat Malkov’s glove for the top-shelf goal at 12:02.
The Cyclones held strong for the next several minutes before Matty Moran provided the final goal of the night. He circled behind the net and stopped at the bottom edge of the far faceoff circle. Moran’s wrister made it past Malkov’s blocker at 17:29.
Due to the Cyclones’ puck control, the Saints could not go to the empty net situation until 15 seconds remaining in the period.
Iowa State finished the game with a 35-28 shot advantage. Moon recorded 25 saves for a percentage of 0.893. Malkov’s percentage ended at 0.857 as he stopped 30 shots.
The Cyclones finished 2/2 on both the power play and penalty kill.
“Our power play has been pretty good this year,” Fairman said. “We certainly need it now more than ever so it’s good to see us go two for two on the power play.”
The Cyclones will face the No. 1 Adrian College Bulldogs in the quarterfinals. The puck drop is 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.
“We’re going to have to be a lot better. We’re going to have to take care of details,” Fairman said. “[…] We will have to be better next game, otherwise we’ll be going home.”