If a team outshoots their opponent 40-25, the expectation might be a dominant offensive outing. That was not the case on Friday night in Ames, Iowa.
Cyclone Hockey created 40 shots and was unable to score on any of them, while the Central Oklahoma Bronchos only put 25 shots on net, and scored on 20 percent of their chances.
"I actually thought there was pretty good energy," said Coach Jason Fairman.
The Cyclones had a lot of time in the offensive zone early on, but it was two goals from the Bronchos (one on the power play) off their rare opportunities that sunk the Cyclones chances early.
The second period was arguably the Cyclone's best chance to get back in the game, Iowa State had a plethora of chances including a power play, a two on one fast-break, as well as a breakaway where Payton McSharry was all by himself, but the scoreboard still read zero at the end of two and it proved to be hard to muster anything against the UCO goaltender.
"There's a lot of positives, territoriality I thought we dominated [...] we just had a couple of lapses" Fairman said.
The third period turned a lot more aggressive, a combination of UCO confidence and Cyclone Hockey frustration boiling over led to a lot of verbal and physical sparring between the two teams in the final frame.
The early-period scoring was really what sunk the Cyclones. Before the players could even get their body temperatures adjusted to the ice, Central Oklahoma had put two past senior Nikita Kozak. One at 2:40 in on the power play, and another about a minute after. 30 seconds into the second period saw an Iowa State turnover that led to the Bronchos scoring.
Coming off of a weekend sweep of Illinois in Champaign, the Cyclones had a confidence boost while coming back home with a chance to knock off more teams that are ahead in the rankings. Ranked No. 24 in this week's ACHA rankings, beating number 15 would do wonders for their potential playoff positioning, as well as get Kozak back in the swing of things.
Aaron LaChance started the Saturday finale against Northern Illinois before getting the nod both nights in Illinois, and he went 3-0. It will be challenge to balance LaChance and Kozak down the stretch while getting Kozak back on track. Fairman said that the time off affected Kozak as well.
"It's kind of hard to say, don't try and think twice about it, just look forward," Kozak said.
Kozak had started all of the Cyclone's games prior to LaChance getting the opportunity two weekends ago. Five is the highest number of goals Kozak has given up this season. He will look to get Friday night's game out of his head as soon as possible with the Cyclones playing again on Saturday.