The No. 4 Cyclones hit the road to Athens, Ohio, to take on CSCHL rival, the No. 5 Ohio Bobcats, in an ACHA top-five matchup this weekend. The Cyclones were swept by the Bobcats, dropping the first game 2-1 and the second game 2-0.
Road experience before postseason play
While the weekend may not have ended the way the Cyclones wanted it to, their trip out to Ohio provided some good experience for upcoming postseason play.
After the weekend series at Ohio, the Cyclones only have two more weekends of regular season hockey left. They’ll travel to Illinois next weekend and host Central Oklahoma the following weekend to end the season. The Cyclones will play in the CSCHL Playoffs on March 15-17 and the National Tournament on March 22-26.
With both being hosted on the road (CSCHL Playoffs being hosted by Lindenwood and National Tournament being hosted in Dallas, Texas), the Cyclones are going to have to face more tough teams while on the road. Closing out the season with ranked opponents, especially a top ranked team like Ohio, provides some early experience for the Cyclones as postseason approaches.
“Definitely at someone else’s rink and having a test like that, it’s always a good learning experience,” said coach and general manager Jason Fairman. “I thought we played well this weekend, but we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities and they did.”
A defensive battle
Both games between the Cyclones and the Bobcats were defensive battles. Senior goaltender Matt Goedeke and Jimmy Thomas of the Bobcats were tasked with making big saves whenever either team found a chance to score.
Goedeke saved 19 of the Bobcats' 21 shots during the first game and saved 26 of the Bobcats' 28 shots during the second game. Meanwhile, Thomas saved 25 of the Cyclones' 26 shots during the first game and saved all 33 shots during the second game.
“On my part of it, anytime I can come up with a big save, I’m hoping that swings the momentum in our way and we can go down and get a goal after,” Goedeke said. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen this weekend.”
But it wasn’t just the goalies a who played a big role in both games. The Cyclones and the Bobcats made it hard for both offenses to find the back of the net throughout the weekend, but the Bobcats managed to capitalize on a couple more shots than the Cyclones.
The cost of little mistakes
With games as close as the games this weekend were, making those little mistakes can make all the difference. This was evident in both matchups in Ohio.
“The national tournament being a one-and-done type scenario, we have to eliminate the little mistakes or the little blown coverages from our game,” said senior defenseman Nick Sandy. “Playing against the top teams like that, they will expose you if you don’t shut them down.”
A couple of goals throughout the weekend came from a team capitalizing on a small mistake of the other. Things like turning the puck over in the defensive zone was all either team needed to score. Junior forward Jackson Graalum capitalized on a Bobcats mistake during the second period of their first game, which led to his first goal of the season.
Gabe Lampron did the same for the Bobcats during the second game, capitalizing on a Cyclones mistake, which put the Bobcats ahead.
“We just got to keep pressing on and I think we’ll be fine,” Fairman said.