Cyclone Hockey defeats Illinois State

Goalie Derek Moser blocks the net while Illinois State forward Joey Bower looks to shoot. The Cyclones defeated the Redbirds Friday and Saturday night. 

Defenseman Cory Sellers sat on the team bus and waited on Sunday afternoon before Cyclone Hockey upset No. 1 Minot State, 2-0, later that night. 

He had been in the same position exactly one year ago.

Cyclone Hockey was coming off an opening round victory last March over a team seeded near the middle of the American Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament and he was on his way to the arena to face a team that was considered by some to be the favorites to win it all.

Last year, the tournament favorites ended Cyclone Hockey’s season. If history were to repeat itself this year, the 20 years of Seller’s life that he has given to the sport would come to an end.

“Knowing any game could be our last game,” Sellers said, “It makes me extremely nervous.”

The team got off the bus when it arrived to the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Ill. The crowd on hand was depleted, but it included Seller’s parents, who came up from Florida to watch Sellers play in what will inevitably be his final collegiate hockey game at some point in the next two days.

Not only was there a chance Cyclone Hockey’s game against No. 1 overall seed Minot State would be the last one for the Cyclones this season, it was likely.

The Beavers came in as the top ranked team in the country with a 32-2-2 record.

Goaltender Derek Moser’s parents were also in the crowd at the Edge Ice Arena but he wasn’t paying attention to that. He didn’t see anything outside of the ice.

Sellers has been playing in the ACHA National Championships for four years. This is Moser’s first crack at the biggest stage Cyclone Hockey can play on. The difference between the two: Moser wasn’t nervous.

“I remained calm,” Moser said. “I found my groove and I stayed in it.”

His groove was working. Moser was bombarded with shots early in the first period but kept fending them off.

“Without Moser’s play in the first period,” Cyclone Hockey coach Jason Fairman said, “we wouldn’t have been able to win the game.”

His hot start heated up after Jake Uglem gave the Cyclones the lead in the first period and continued on past the opening frame.

He made multiple saves throughout the game where the Beavers had one-on-one opportunities.

Moser finished the night a perfect 40-for-40 on save opportunities.

“He was unbelievable,” Sellers said. “He saved us multiple times and made some huge saves. We wouldn’t have won if we didn’t have him making those huge saves.”

hockey vs. twin city steel-22.jpg

A Twin City Steel player runs into Derek Moser, junior goalie, during the game against the Steel on Friday night. The Cyclones went on to beat the Steel 5-2. 

But it hasn’t always been Moser making the big saves for the Cyclones this season. He came into the season banged up which created an opportunity for sophomore Matt Goedeke, who transferred to Iowa State from Midland, to take over the starting role.

Moser got chances sparingly and wasn’t overly impressive when those opportunities would arise. He battled back from injury again at the start of the second semester and would only start 12 of the 40 games played by Cyclone Hockey.

Moser started to gain his starting spot after coming in on relief of Goedeke during the series against Central Oklahoma and impressed down the stretch of the season.

“Despite everything he’s gone through this season, he was able to step up big tonight,” Sellers said.

This season, it appears Moser saved his best for last.

“As a whole,” Moser said, “that game was probably one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of.”

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