By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
The Division II Cyclones (11-7-1) secured the third seed in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II National Tournament. The University of Mary Marauders and the Lindenwood University Lions are the two teams ahead of the Cyclones in the tournament rankings — both teams the Cyclones beat this season.
“We certainly can make a run,” said Head Coach Jason Fairman. “I think we’re right in the mix with the top teams.”
The Division II tournament contains four pools. The winner of each pool advances to the semifinals. Pool C is where the Cyclones find themselves. They are paired with tournament seeds No. 6 Marian, No. 11 Jamestown and No. 14 Williston State College.
Senior Blake Ramsey knows the Cyclones need to bring their A-game no matter who they play.
“I’m glad we’re going in as the three seed, but we can’t get too high,” Ramsey said. “We’ve just got to stay even keeled. Every game counts in pool play. It doesn’t really matter the seeds.”
The Marian Sabres (13-1) hosted the Cyclones for a series March 12-13. Friday’s matchup saw the Sabres secure a 4-2 victory before the Cyclones picked up an 8-1 win on Saturday. The March 13 matchup ended up being Marian’s sole loss on the year.
Iowa State split with Lindenwood the following weekend but has not played a game since. Ramsey said the beginning of the rest helped. The Cyclones are getting their legs back under them and will be ready to roll come Thursday, according to Ramsey.
Marian is not the only familiar team in the pool. The Jamestown Jimmies are also a team the Cyclones played this season. A series between these two teams took place Oct. 23-24 in Ames, Iowa. The teams tied game one before the Cyclones picked up a 4-1 win on Saturday. The two teams then met again Nov. 1 with Jamestown as the host. The Cyclones won 6-2 during that third meeting. Ramsey knows the Jimmies have improved since the teams last met but also knows the Cyclones are a better team now as well.
The Williston State College Tetons split with the Jimmies Oct. 9-10. The two teams met again Nov. 13-14 with game one ending in a tie before the Tetons secured a 6-3 win in game two. Williston tied Division I Jamestown Jan. 31 and tied Division II Mary Feb. 10.
The Cyclones cannot get ahead of themselves, according to Ramsey, but with their eyes on a national title, they would most likely face the Marauders in the championship game. Ramsey wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I would love a rematch with Mary, ultimately, but we can’t look too far ahead,” Ramsey said. “We’ve got to work every game to get that matchup.”
The Cyclones and Marauders played six games this season. Mary won all four games in October, but the Cyclones won 4-1 during game one of the Feb. 26-27 series in Ames, Iowa. The second game ended in a tie.
Fairman echoed Ramsey’s thoughts about the possibility of facing Mary for the championship.
“It’s going to be very different playing in their arena in front of their fans if we’re fortunate enough to meet them in the national championship game,” Fairman said. “Anything can happen in a one-game situation, but I think our guys would be pretty excited to play them for all the marbles.”
All round-robin games for the Cyclones will be at 4:30 p.m. with game one against Jamestown on Thursday. Game two will see the Cyclones take on Williston State College on Friday before wrapping up pool play on Saturday when they face Marian.
Both semifinal games will be played April 19 with the championship game taking place April 20.
To view all four pools and live standings, visit the ACHA website (link: https://achahockey.org/national-tournament/pools).
All games 2021 ACHA national tournaments games will be broadcasted by HockeyTV (link: https://www.hockeytv.com/home). Purchasing the All-Access monthly subscription for $29.99 gives access to view all national tournament games from all the divisions. Using the code ACHAMTHLY0421 will reduce the cost by $5, according to the ACHA Twitter page.
Ramsey said the Cyclones have their sights set on one thing.
“Hopefully, we’ll come back to Ames as national champs,” Ramsey said.