By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
After losing 3-2 on Friday night to the Missouri State Ice Bears (1-4-1), the Division I Cyclones (10-2) picked up a 5-4 win on Saturday night to avoid being swept for the first time this season.
“It was not a good weekend for us,” said Head Coach Jason Fairman after Saturday’s game. “There were a number of lessons learned, and I understand that’s going to happen with a young team, but we can’t use that as an excuse.”
As with most series of the season, special teams played a big role in the games this past weekend.
During Friday’s game, Payton McSharry opened the scoring on the night with a power-play goal in Iowa State’s first advantage. The Cyclones also killed a 5-on-3 during the second period in Friday’s contest. The kill kept the score at 1-0 and helped Iowa State finish two for two on the night.
The penalty-kill percentage was once again high for the weekend, but Fairman was not happy with the power-play goal given up in Saturday’s game as it was scored just three seconds into the advantage.
The Ice Bears did not have to move the puck around much as they won the ensuing faceoff after the penalty. Sam Hiserodt’s driven shot from the point took a slight redirection from Henrik Löhman on its way into the net. The 2-0 Cyclone lead coming out of the intermission was quickly cut in half as the Löhman goal occurred in the first minute of the second period.
Fairman said he has seen similar occurrences this season.
“We can’t give up goals like that,” Fairman said after Saturday’s game. “That’s been going on for a while here, these goals that take the life out of guys.”
Iowa State finished one for two on the kill in the second game of the series.
The two-goal lead in Saturday’s game was courtesy of power-play goals from Ray Zimmerman and Max Olson. Zimmerman added another power-play goal in the second period as the Cyclones went three for five on the night.
The Cyclones moved the puck well on the power-play, and it helped them win, according to Fairman.
“[The power-play goals] bailed us out,” Fairman said.
Olson said he is overall pleased with the power play and penalty kill play so far this season but knows the time on special teams will likely decrease down the stretch.
“We’ve got to get away from leaning on special teams,” Olson said after Saturday’s game. “As we go, teams are going to keep getting better.”
The Cyclones are currently second in the nation in both power-play percentage (31.5%) and penalty kill percentage (89.1%) behind Adrian College’s 40% and 100% in its four games this season.
Room for improvement
After Friday night’s loss, Fairman said that isn’t how Cyclone Hockey plays and that it’s his job to fix it.
“I can say we need to be better but I’m the one who needs to lead that to make it better,” Fairman said.
Zimmerman saw progress between the two games but knows there is still improvement to be made.
“I thought we played a lot better than [Friday] night, but we still have a lot of things to work on,” Zimmerman said after Saturday’s game.
A common theme after both games was the effort. Fairman spoke on that topic after each of the two games.
“Our effort determined the game,” Fairman said after Friday’s game. “We can’t play the way we did.”
He saw a difference in Saturday’s game but said a lot of players are fighting for the spots on the team right now.
“I think the effort was better overall but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be,” Fairman said. […] “We’ve got to have a better effort. Guys have to want to earn the minutes.”
The Cyclones will have an extra week between games for the second straight time as they face off against the McKendree Bearcats on Feb. 5-6 in Ames, Iowa.