The Cyclone Hockey team will look to use this weekend’s exhibition series with the Edina Lakers as a way to stay fresh for the upcoming national tournament.
With the loss to Ohio last Saturday in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League Tournament, No. 10 Iowa State (33-9-4, 14-5-1 CSCHL) wrapped up its conference with two weeks remaining before nationals.
Rather than wait until the American Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament to compete on the ice again, the Cyclones will play Edina on Friday and Saturday to keep their hockey legs under them.
“This week is more making sure guys are healthy,” said ISU coach Jason Fairman. “We want to get a little sweat; in that way, we remain sharp. Some respect, it’s a good thing and other respects, it is a negative thing.”
Since the Lakers are only a Tier III junior league team, Fairman is concerned the Cyclones will pick up some bad habits against them. He said he worries some players might not take practices leading up to the series as seriously as they do with tougher opponents.
To combat this, Fairman will prepare his team the same way he has all season long. He hopes this attitude of viewing Edina as more of a challenge will help his players stay focused.
However, facing Ohio — which has eliminated Iowa State in its last three postseason appearances — in the first round of the ACHA tournament might be the main motivation for Iowa State. Goalie Scott Ismond said the Cyclones will need to retain the momentum they had in the CSCHL tournament through this weekend if they are going to beat the Bobcats at nationals.
“I kind of feel bad for these guys [Edina] because they are going to take the pounding that we want to deliver to Ohio in that national tournament game,” Ismond said.
This series also gives the Cyclones, who are a little bit banged up, a chance to get healthy. Fairman will rest several of his starters for one or even both of the games with the Lakers.
Additionally, the seniors from the Division III ISU team will get a chance to play in the series.
“There is definitely going be a few of the core guys taking breaks because they want to be 100 percent heading into nationals,” said goalie Matt Cooper. “So nothing against guys taking one of the games, they are just trying to stay healthy and as ready as possible for next week.”
If the Cyclones are going to make a run in the playoffs, Cooper said they will need to use the games with the Lakers to iron out the kinks.
“That main focus is taking it shift by shift and period by period,” Cooper said. “In practice this week and going into practice after Edina will be huge for the whole team to kind of come together and be on point to go into nationals.”
Iowa State will face Edina at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena.