By Jared Bravard, @JaredBravard
The Division I Cyclones faced off against the Minot State Beavers this past weekend in Ames, Iowa. The two losses marked the first time all season the Cyclones were swept, but Head Coach Jason Fairman and defenseman Justin Paulson saw a lot of good from the weekend that the Cyclones can carry with them down the stretch.
As a top-tier American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) team, Iowa State plays many other top-level teams in a normal season. With cancellations, postponements and some teams not playing this season, the Cyclones’ schedule has looked different than the past.
The series against Minot State helped the Cyclones get back to that high level of play, according to Fairman.
“We took a big step this weekend,” Fairman said after Saturday’s game. “Normally we play 20 games a year like this and these are the first two that we’ve played this season.”
The tough schedule that the Cyclones play each year is the reason the team has played in two of the last four national championship games, according to Fairman.
Fairman sees this series helping the Cyclones become better as the season progresses.
Despite the 4-1 score of Friday’s loss, Fairman said the game was closer than it may appear. He saw a lot of aspects of the Cyclones’ play that he liked and was optimistic about the way they played.
“I thought we were pretty good with our coverage,” Fairman said. “We had some pretty good zone time, and we moved the puck well in the neutral zone. Overall, it was a good hockey game.”
Fairman saw the team perform even better than Friday’s outing as the Cyclones were on the brink of victory in Saturday’s game before falling 3-2 in a shootout.
“We got better goaltending tonight which I think was the difference-maker and we also had a better effort ourselves,” Fairman said after Saturday’s game.
Cyclone goalie Greg Moon recorded 36 saves for a percentage of 0.947 on Saturday night. Moon also made two saves on two separate Minot State breakaways in the final minute of overtime.
Paulson said that Moon had a big impact on the Cyclones being in Saturday’s game.
“Greg Moon played unbelievable today,” Paulson said. “He really helped us get to that shootout and even get to that overtime so he was a big part of that.”
According to Fairman, with this being the first series of the season like this, it also provided the Cyclones with learning opportunities. Both Fairman and Paulson mentioned how the Cyclones learned from the series.
“We learned a lot of lessons this weekend, and it was a good weekend of hockey,” Fairman said after Saturday’s game.
After neither team had many chances on special teams in Friday’s game, both teams recorded three advantages in Saturday’s contest.
The Cyclones found themselves on a penalty kill to end regulation that carried over into overtime. The team has had success all year on special teams, but Fairman saw the special teams take another step forward.
“Our special teams did a good job, but that was another test because we weren’t used to this caliber of special teams on both sides, so that was another lesson learned,” Fairman said after Saturday’s game.
Paulson said the series helped the team take steps in discovering itself.
“It’s good to see our team find its identity more each week so I’m excited for next week,” Paulson said after Saturday’s game.
The Cyclones (10-3-1) travel to Maryland Heights, Missouri, this weekend to face the Lindenwood Lions (6-0). Puck drop is 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:10 p.m. Sunday from the Centene Community Ice Center.