By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
Like Friday’s game, special teams played a key role in the Cyclones’ win on Saturday. Cyclone Hockey (7-1-0) picked up a 4-2 win over the Midland Warriors (4-2-0) to complete the sweep.
Head Coach Jason Fairman was glad to see a better start after some of the team’s previous starts.
“One of our goals was to have a good start and I thought we played pretty well in the first period which is reversing a recent trend over a number of games,” Fairman said.
After three straight games of being down 1-0, the Cyclones grabbed the first goal of the night. Forward Eli Kopish carried the puck into the Midland zone. Kopish found Everett Bestland, who was driving towards the net. Bestland controlled the puck and brought it across the top of the crease. His backhand shot made it past Midland goalie Angus Laing at 2:12 in the first period.
“It was definitely nice starting off the game with a lead instead of climbing back from a deficit,” said defenseman Ryan Nelson. “We had energy today, and it felt good to get that first goal.”
Several minutes later, Midland forward Mason Cirone carried the puck into the Cyclone zone. Cirone’s early shot from the high slot found its way past Cyclone goalie Greg Moon at 8:01.
During the Cyclones’ first power play of the night, Nelson found forward Ray Zimmerman in the slot for the one-timer at 13:57 in the first.
Just a few minutes later, Nelson then got a goal of his own at 16:15.
“Moran drove around the net and threw the puck out front,” Nelson said. “It squeaked out to me and I walked down, took a shot and beat the goalie glove side.”
After the busy first period, the score sat at 3-1 in favor of the Cyclones. The game stayed busy in the second period but with penalties instead of goals.
Midland struck early in the second period with a goal at 2:10. Moon stopped the first Warrior shot, but defenseman Phil Liakakos was there to score on the rebound. This ended up being the only goal in the second period, but far from the only action. Each team took five penalties in the second. Both teams found themselves on the power play but also in a lot of four-on-four action.
“It was a weird game with so many power plays and penalty kills,” Zimmerman said. “It was kind of hard to get into a groove.”
Early in the third period, Zimmerman got the puck to forward Stuart Pearson, who started circling behind the net. Pearson then stopped and returned the puck to Zimmerman who fired a shot top shelf past Laing at 2:43 for his second power-play goal of the night.
Through the ups and downs of all the penalties, Zimmerman said the team handled it well.
“I thought we responded well,” Zimmerman said. “I think we definitely won from a special teams perspective. Our penalty kill did great against their power play.”
Each team took a total of nine penalties on the night. The teams skated four-on-four three times throughout Saturday’s game. The Cyclones scored on two of their six power plays while killing all five times they were down a man.
Cyclone Hockey recorded 18 penalty minutes on Saturday. This comes after 20 minutes in Friday’s game. Fairman said it is uncharacteristic of the Cyclones to take this many penalties as they usually lead the nation in least penalty minutes.
“We got a sweep against a good hockey team,” Fairman said. “We’re doing things well in some areas, but I’m very disappointed in our lack of discipline and that’s my fault. I’ve got to get that under control because this isn’t how we do things in Cyclone Hockey.”
Moon picked up his sixth win of the season by recording 28 saves for a save percentage of 0.933. Laing stopped 37 shots for a save percentage of 0.902.
The Cyclones’ next series takes place on Nov. 13-14 against the Waldorf Warriors. Both games will be played at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena in Ames, Iowa.