The Cyclones are coming off a successful weekend sweep against Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL) rival Illinois, which saw the Cyclones beat the Fighting Illini 4-1 and 6-3. The Cyclones improved their record to 17-5 and their conference record to 5-5 on the season, while maintaining the No. 4 spot in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Men’s Division I rankings.
The Cyclones have another big test this weekend as they face the No. 1 Lindenwood Lions in another CSCHL matchup. The Lions are leading the ACHA with a 20-1 record and a perfect 10-0 conference record. The Lions took over the No. 1 spot in the ACHA rankings back in week No. 5 and have held the top spot since.
“I think it’s exciting anytime you play the number one team in the nation,” said coach and general manager Jason Fairman. “I think everyone wants to knock off number one.”
The Cyclones and the Lions have already matched up earlier in the season when the Cyclones traveled to Wentzville, Missouri, for an away series against the Lions. That series saw the Lions sweep the Cyclones, winning 5-1 and 7-3.
While the Cyclones and the Lions are no stranger to each other, being longtime CSCHL rivals, their earlier matchup in October gave the Cyclones a chance to see how the Lions play and to use the game as an early test. The series may have not worked out how the Cyclones wanted it to, but now they have a bit of motivation going into the weekend.
“It kind of helped to know their mentality and how they play the game this year, anytime you play a team, you see how they play,” said senior forward Aaron Azevedo. “We have some payback to get against them, we’re excited for that. Other than that, we know that hockey team we’ve become and we have to be that this weekend.”
With postseason play coming closer and closer, getting wins, especially over top-ranked teams, become more and more important. There was a general consensus within the team that being able to pull out a win or two against a team like Lindenwood would help with continuing to move up in the ACHA rankings.
The Cyclones are going into the weekend with a three-game win streak after beating Robert Morris in the second game two weeks ago and sweeping Illinois last weekend. After a rough first period in the first game against Illinois, they turned it around to complete the sweep.
“A big thing we talked about last week is making sure we bring the effort,” Fairman said. “I think that if we’re bringing the effort consistently from the entire roster, we have a pretty good chance at being successful.”