By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
The Division II Cyclones (7-4) completed the sweep of the Maryville Saints (0-8) with a 5-3 win on Saturday afternoon. After a slow start to Friday’s game, the Cyclones came out better on Saturday, according to forward Marco Escobar.
“We definitely started out well. We came out the way we were supposed to but got sloppy later on,” Escobar said. “Luckily we got good goaltending and some other key plays that kept us in the game.”
Escobar opened the scoring at 2:23 in the first period. Bryan Watters got the puck to Escobar in the neutral zone. Escobar carried the puck across the blue line and fired a wrister from the faceoff circle that made it past Maryville goalie Hampus Blomdahl’s glove for the top-shelf goal.
The Cyclones increased their lead near the halfway point of the period. Watters again tallied an assist as he found Blake Ramsey at the bottom of the faceoff circle. Ramsey’s shot went top shelf as the Cyclones took the 2-0 advantage. Escobar also tallied an assist on the Ramsey goal.
The first couple of shifts in Saturday’s game were much different than Friday’s, according to Ramsey.
“They had the momentum right away yesterday and today before the game we talked about having a faster start than last night to get the momentum on our side and I think we did that,” Ramsey said.
The Cyclones outshot the Saints 15-3 in the first period and took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Just 45 seconds into the second period, Mason McIntosh scored his first goal as a Cyclone to increase the lead. Ryan Hempel found McIntosh in the slot. McIntosh carried the puck to just outside the crease for a shot that trickled past Blomdahl as it hit one of his pads. Peter Meyer also tallied an assist on the goal.
Maryville found its first goal of the game at 9:13. Michael Lane carried the puck into the zone and left it for Matt Birkemeier who took a shot from the faceoff circle. The puck took an awkward deflection on its way to the net and arced over Cyclone goalie Devin Naidow’s shoulder and into the back of the net.
Approximately two minutes later, the Cyclones thought they had scored a goal to take a 4-1 lead, but it was disallowed, and the score remained 3-1. After another two minutes of play, the Saints cut the lead down to one. Naidow saved the initial shot, but Spencer Barlow was there for the rebound at 13:13. Tim Rye and Jake Hanebrink tallied the assists as the Cyclones’ three-goal lead was trimmed down to one.
Just over a minute later, Brandon Peterson got the puck to Jordan Hillman. After receiving Hillman’s pass, James Frantz carried the puck into the zone and fired a wrister from the edge of the faceoff circle. The puck made its way past Blomdahl’s blocker on the near post at 14:26.
Iowa State took the 4-2 lead into the third period. Maryville tallied an early goal in the third to again cut the Cyclone lead down to one. Similar to the second goal, Naidow saved the initial shot, but Josh Salmon tapped in the rebound at 1:43. Matt Simoncelli and Devin Tockman recorded the assists.
“In the third period we came out a little flat but at the end of the game, we really buckled down and stayed to our systems which helped us keep the lead,” Ramsey said.
With only a one-goal lead, the Cyclones went on the penalty kill just over halfway through the period. They successfully killed it to retain their lead.
“The penalty kill was absolutely phenomenal,” Escobar said. “[…] It’s all about trusting every guy out there for the penalty kill and that’s the way to be successful.”
After several minutes of back-and-forth play after the penalty kill, the Cyclones found the goal that sealed the game. Hempel got the puck to Meyer in the neutral zone. Meyer carried it to the center of the faceoff circle and fired a wrister that made it past Blomdahl’s glove and inside the back post at 17:35.
Blomdahl finished the night with 48 saves for a percentage of 0.906. Naidow recorded a save percentage of 0.870 as he made 20 saves. The Cyclones did not convert on any of their three power plays as the Saints did not score on either of their two.
The Division II Cyclones are home again next weekend as they face off against the No. 1 University of Mary Marauders (24-1-4). This will be the third series between the two teams this season. The puck drop is 7:15 p.m. Friday and 4:45 p.m. Saturday at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena.
“We need to have a big week of practice,” Ramsey said. “The number one team is coming to town next weekend, so we’ve got to get fired up for that.”