Thursday, April 30, 2009

Game 4 thoughts...

Well the Cyclones have the chance Friday to advance to Conference Finals. I think they have proven to be the better team, taking the 3 games to zero lead.

However, elimination games are always the toughest and Elmira does have the chance to compete. It is quite possible that the Jackals muster one last whimper of a win in Game 4.

If that happens, I believe the Cyclones can take them in Game 5 on Saturday. If the Jackals do 'bring it' on Friday, they will be out of gas by Saturday.

One game at a time. That is the way it must be done; but I like the outlook.

I actually have a new tux idea for conference finals if everything works out. Games 3-4-5 at home will feature an impeccably derssed Zamboni driver.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

#11 Doesn't want to go to the hockey game...

Coach even told him they have food there!

Click Here

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Preparing for Game 3 vs. Elmira

Well, in 24 hours game three will be well underway. I hope everyone can listen on either Max FM 97.7 / 99.5 or online through Maybe the boys can't here us cheering but they'll still know the faithful are out there and will play their best.

The Elmira Jackals are a tough team. They did not get this far by accident and they can't be taken for granted. Coach Weber was quoted in the Enquirer saying this will be a "long series" but the Cyclones definitely have the advantage so far. Taking both games at home is huge - especially given their home-ice woes. And now they are in Elmira, with their strong road record. I really believe they can take this series in Elmira. It could just as easily come back here for a game 6 but I think they have a good chance of winning it there.

It's funny, some of the articles have talked about the Cyclones being a physical team, their number of fights this year, and their total penalties. I guess watching them I never really looked at them this way but upon reflection it is true. They still play with skill as well, though, which is what I love about them. They definitely play aggressively and physical when necessary - but they play clean and play it straight. Good stuff.

So, if they win it in Elmira, the bad news is that we won't see them at home again until Game #3 of the Conference Finals against either Florida or South Carolina. Both teams have a better regular season record, so the winner is guaranteed to have home ice advantage. That series is tied at 1 each and they don't play game 3 until Friday. The good news is that series games are compressed toward the end of the time slot, so whoever we play will probably have less rest.

If they do make it to Conference Finals, I have a new tuxedo to break out. Actually, I bought it last year for my daughter's wedding. It's a standard black tux. I'll probably wear a white shirt with a red vest.

The white jacket will be reserved for Kelly Cup finals. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We still have to knock off Elmira. One game at a time, but it can be done.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wow, that was a smoker!!!

Game 2, Division Finals, Saturday, April 25, 2009 - A game of oddities

COME FROM BEHIND VICTORY! - 3 unanswered goals by the Cyclones to tie the game and force OT.

Penalty Shot (GOAL) - Mac Faulkner

Hat Trick - Mac Faulkner

"NO GOAL" - Distinct Kicking Motion, no goal Elmira

Overtime - Cyclones Win on a goal by Jimmy Kilpatrick

Great Game by the Cyclones. They looked a little rubber-legged early in the game but rallied for the victory, proving that last night's blowout was not a pure fluke.

After the game, Jackal Mike Sgroi got a special delivery in the dressing room, caught by camera phone.

Click Here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sgroi Meltdown

Jackal Mike Sgroi has a major meltdown after being tossed out - caught on video!

Click Here

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reflecting on the Wheeling Series

Sorry it's taken me so long for this entry. Once again my "real job" seriously interferes with the rest of my life.

So, what a series that was! You talk about highs and lows! Truly, there is no shame in that series for either team. Of course I'm darn glad the Cyclones emerged victorious, but had Wheeling won, I would have had to have said that they earned it. I was particularly happy with the wide-open style of hockey played by both teams - sort of old mid-1980's Edmonton Oilers hockey. I love it.

And three cheers to the Nailers for not playing the trap and not playing clutch-and-grab hockey. Even when they had the lead - which is pretty much what we at home had to endure - they played it straight. They didn't stand 4 guys up across the blue line, take the puck, and chip it back into the Cyclones zone. That's not hockey. I hate when teams play it. Wheeling's coaching staff deserves praise for not stooping to that style.

Monday's game 7 was, IMHO, awesome. I know I have said how "special" it was too many times; but it truly was. Games 7 is rare, and OT in game 7 is more rare. Double OT, wow. Incredible - especially when the good guys win at home. My wife has asthma and she says how horrible it is not being able to breathe during an asthma attack; well, I think I started having an asthma attack in the second period and didn't start breathing again until it was all over.

I think the boys got a harsh education in the adversity of playoff hockey. Honestly, I wondered if they could pull through. Thankfully they did. Wheeling was a worthy opponent and put the Cyclones through their paces. The Cyclones ultimately found the way to win. That's what playoff hockey is all about.

Major cudos to the team and the leadership - Coach Weber and Coach Stork - in securing the series success.

The ice cuts for a double-OT game were interesting. The ice is softening up with the spring weather. Trying to give them the best possible ice, I cut as deep as I dared and used as little water as possible. As a result, I filled the snow tank completely on all 5 cuts. I was a little worried that I would have filled it before finishing and have to go dashing off the ice to dump and return. We had a secret code worked out so the rest of the staff would know everything was OK and that was why I was leaving (rather than leaving for some mechanical problem).

Looking ahead, I think Elmira will be a very different series and present new challenges. The Jackals are more of a physical and goonish team. That's fine for the skilled Cyclones as long as they don't lose control of their emotions. It's a difficult balance to put your heart and soul into the game but not get emotional and lose control. They have to do that. Period.

I believe they can. If they do, the series could be a sweep but I think it is more likely to go 5 games.

The Twittering seems to be popular so I'll continue. During the first intermission Monday night I believe I made history - delivering the world's first tweet from upon the Zamboni while resurfacing during a pro hockey game. A buddy of mine happened to catch the moment on camera. Note I'm looking down at something - I'm sending the tweet at this very moment:

Sign up to follow my twittering at:

Let's pack the house this weekend and start this series off with 2 wins!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and the Ug-Ug-Ugly Saturday Night

Painful. I don't know how else to describe it; but it was exceptionally painful to watch Game 6 vs. Wheeling. Losing 6-0 at home after three wins in Wheeling is humiliating. However, it's not all doom and gloom from where I'm sitting. Making no excuses, let's analyze things and talk about it.

First, I didn't think the Cyclones played too horribly. In fact the score isn't really reflective of the game itself. The Cyclones out shot the Nailers 41 to 33 but Curtis Darling was hot. Very hot. Also many of the Cyclones shots were from the outside, not the good inside the dots "Grade A" shots on goal.

The Wheeling defense did an excellent job keeping the Cyclones on the outside, and Darling took care of what got by.

The Wheeling offense definitely took advantage of Cyclones' mistakes and capitalized with goals. That's playoff hockey. Period. You also have to figure that, while the Cyclones got the victories in Wheeling, they had to travel back and forth, while the Wheeling guys were at least able to catch some rest. Maybe the travel caught up to the young Cyclones by Friday night.

And finally, Wheeling's back was definitely up against the wall. They had just suffered the humiliation of losing all three games at home after decisive wins in the first two games. They were facing elimination. The absolute need to win has a way of motivating a team.

The Cyclones couldn't catch a break and everything lined up for the Nailers. They got a lot of lucky breaks - but they also earned their luck through solid play and good decisionmaking. That's hockey; especially playoff hockey.

Monday will be a different story. Now the Cyclones are also up against the wall but they are at home, with the "7th Man" being the fans in the house.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Now Twittering

I've decided to take a stab at Twittering. The playoff run seems the perfect time to experiment. My plan is for mostly game-day and game-time tweets, and also making notifications of new long-form blog entries here.

My Twitter address is

Cyclones on a role now! I think their youthfulness showed during last Thursday and Friday's games. Clearly they learned from their experience and came back with a vengeance Saturday and Wednesday.

Let's hope they finish the Nailers Friday and Saturday!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Special Nature of Playoff Hockey

The playoffs truly are a special time if you're a hockey fan. The difference in intensity from the last game of the regular season to the first game of the playoffs is palpable. The crowds at US Bank Arena last Thursday and Friday got a taste of it, even if both were losing efforts by the Cyclones.

I was reminded about how special the playoffs are by watching John, the new operations manager at the arena. He has a background in stage and theatre, but no experience in hockey. Since starting in January, he's been learning the sport. During Friday's game, he commented to me about the difference he felt in the building. It was his child-like enthusiasm and observation that reminded me to appreciate the playoffs, regardless of the outcome.

Those games were disappointing in outcome but the hockey played was great. The Cyclones are a young team, some still learning how to be professional athletes and how to deal with advsersity. Wheeling brought a good game, and a hot goalie.

The playoffs are, obviously, the best teams. They bring their best games because every game matters. The result is that all strengths are subdued and all weaknesses are magnified. Game outcomes are often the result of one team making the most of the other's mistakes.

For example. Thursday night. I think the Cyclones are a better team than the Nailers. The Cyclones played a decent game. They spent more time in Wheeling's zone; they won the small battles for the puck; they made the extra effort nearly every play. But they made two mistakes in the first period and both resulting in Wheeling goals.

The Cyclones scoring prowess was subdued by Wheeling's stepped-up play, and their weakness was then exploited by the Nailers for goals. They were never able to recover.

Friday night's game was basically the same. I think the Cyclones slipped a little, maybe the Nailers got in their heads a little. Clearly, however, Saturday was a different story.

It took them two losses to get there, but the Cyclones turned the table on the Nailers and brought their own A-Game as they CRUSHED the Nailers.

It's going to take more games like Saturday and less (or no) games like Thursday and Friday for the Cyclones to go deep in the playoffs.

Here's hoping they have it in them. I believe they do.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Good Momentum Into The Playoffs

This past weekend was an excellent end of the regular season, sending the Cyclones into the playoffs with momentum. Coming from behind on Friday night showed their spirit and determination to prevail in battle; and crushing the Chiefs on Saturday showed they can put away an opponent.

Friday's game was virtually the same as an elimination game in a playoff series. Johnstown had to win to have a chance of getting in the playoffs. Their backs were against the wall. They had to win. The Cyclones, on the other hand, were playing for standing and home ice advantage in the playoffs but that is not the same as facing elimination.

After so many Friday loss/Saturday win weekends this season, it was awesome to see that they have the grit and determination to stay in the game.

Saturday night, 11, 417 in attendance. A regular season record. Awesome. Both nights I really felt that playoff intensity that we hadn't really had since last year. Frankly, this season has been fairly mellow. That's OK and to be expected, coming of the natural high of a championship, only returning 7 players, then losing most of them, a certain degree of lame-ness is to be expected. I hate to use the word lame because of the negative connotation, but if you've been to games you know what I mean.

It was great to feel that electricity in the air - high voltage Cyclones hockey.

In a way, I'm feeling better about this team's playoff chances than I was at this time last year. Too many teams win the regular season title and then choke in the playoffs. How many times have the St. Louis Blues won the President's Trophy and then been sent home like crying children early in the playoffs? Things came so easy for last year's team, I worried that they had not learned how to deal with adversity well enough for a deep playoff run.

Clearly they did. Excellent leadership, personal responsibility, and a drive to win took them all the way to the cup. The road for the 2008-09 Cyclones definitely travels a different path. What these guys lack in raw talent they make up for in determination and a blue-collar work ethic; and obviously the leadership team is still in place. Actually I think the leadership this year is stronger with Barret Ehgoetz as the Captain taking the leadership role out onto the ice.

Have faith, Cyclones fans. Our chances are strong.

One win at a time, 16 times, and the Kelly Cup stays in Cincinnati.