Sunday, February 18, 2007

Still On Top - and "Beller" is back!

This is a long rambling entry. Sorry. Take two sessions to read it if you need to. Not much has been going on to inspire me to write, and now there are several things worth mentioining.

Part 1: Players and Playing

It's been a very good weekend for the Cyclones, giving them a good leg to stand on as they prepare for their long road trip. They came from behind Friday night to win at home against Johnstown in overtime. Then they came from behind Saturday night with an explosive 7-4 win. They stayed neck-and-neck against Toledy today, and sent them home as badly bruised losers.

They remain atop the division with a nice 5-point lead and the best winning percentage. Dayton still has 5 games in hand, but they are not playing good enough to catch up any time soon.

Their play has been maybe a little inconsistent. It seems like they come out strong, then fall flat, then recover. To go deep in the playoffs, they'll need to leave out the falling flat part. I think they can.

Anybody else noticed the hits? Wow! they've been pounding their opponents. I don't know what carrot the coach is dangling, but it makes for an exciting game.

The acquisition of Wirll and Lisabeth is awesome. I liked Johnson and Gajda a lot, but the Cyclones definitely got the better of this deal! These two are great players on their own, and they are even better together. Wirll is just a man on a mission. He is driven. You can see the determination on his face. He is always thinking about how the next goal can be scored - by him or somebody else. Lisabeth's hand/eye skills are really good, in addition to his hustle and drive. And, they are two-way players. They play well defensively - and their best defense is their constant attack.

Marc Labelle - what else can be said about this grisly veteran? He's tough, he's big, and he's a capable player. He still lives in Cincinnati and owns a successful business. But he still loves the game and he wants to play. I think he is serious about his return and wants to be a contributor on this team. He did not get much ice time today. I chalk that up to him being new, not knowing the systems, and being thrown in against a tough opponent in a close game. The "Labelle Watch" will be interesting indeed.

I got a good view of him skating down the lenght of the ice, right at me. He has one very long stride. He caught up to a Toledo guy who was taking about 3 strides to a single Labelle stride. Awesome skating technique and strength.

Part 2: Coaching Skill

The Cyclones have lost 7 players in a short time. They've sent players to two AHL squads. And, they've still managed to keep winning! To me, that speaks volumes about Coach Weber. One of the great props for a minor league coach is to have his players get called up. It means he is developing these young players - helping them to tune up their game and making them a complete package to the upper level of play.

But, that skill leaves a coach without his best players. What a conundrum, eh? A truly great coach is prepared. He develops his team to carry on when players are lost. He has resources to tap to replace lost players. He maintains a continuity. Coach Weber has done that - on a minor league budget and resources. He doesn't have a fleet of scouts out there looking at players; he doesn't have a big wad of cash to spend, he just gets it done.

Damn good work, coach!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was definitely cool to see Marc playing at US Bank Arena again. He was among my favorite players from the IHL teams. He is actually the reason I have "23" on the back of the Cyclones jersey I wear most frequently to games, which also has my last name on it.

He obviously didn't get much ice time but he laid some big hits during his shifts which was what he was known for when he was originally a Cyclone. He certainly didn't look rusty at all during those short shifts.

It is a shame he was only called in to play for one game, but was cool to see for us IHL fans nonetheless. It was great to see everyone's expressions at the game who hadn't previously been online to see the news.

- Mark (Sonic)

4:29 PM  

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