Cyclone Hockey’s first road trip to provide toughest game so far


Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Senior forward Chris Cucullu falls to the ice while trying to get the puck from a North Iowa player on Sept. 27 at Ames/ISU Ice Arena. The Cyclones succeeded in game one of the matchup 4-2.

Will Musgrove

Cyclone Hockey will pack up its skates to travel to the University of Illinois to renew its rivalry with the Illini this weekend.

This two-game series against the Illini marks the start of conference play for the Cyclones within the Central States Collegiate Hockey League. But the Cyclones will not just be looking to start 2-0 in the conference; they will try to do it with as many goals as possible.

“It is more important than ever to put pucks in the back of the net when we have the opportunity,” said assistant captain and ISU senior Chris Cucullu.

This emphasis of scoring is due to the new American Collegiate Hockey Association’s ranking system. Previously, team rankings were put together by coach voting, but with the new system, it will be done by a computer, which factors in winning margins and toughness of schedule.

So far the Cyclones have not had trouble scoring goals. In the six exhibition games it have played this year, the team has averaged more than seven goals a game.

However, the Illini will be the biggest test the Cyclones has faced so far this season — and not just when it comes to hockey skills.

“It is a different kind of arena over there,” said ISU coach Al Murdoch. “[The Ames/ISU Ice Arena] is 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. There arena is 200 feet long and 115 feet wide. So it is 30 feet wider.”

The 30 feet of extra ice makes the University of Illinois Ice Arena more conducive to the Illini’s quick and smaller skaters, Murdoch said.

Murdoch has been stressing physical play and puck movement in practice this week to try stay on par with the Illini’s skaters and to slow them down at the same time.

“We will try to slow them down the best we can, and the best way to do that is to play physical,” Murdoch said. “If we try to outsmart them or figure out where they are going to pass to, then they will just skate around us.”

Cyclone team captain and ISU senior Mark Huber is worried the physical style of this weekend might be hard to accomplish. He thinks the Cyclones have to be careful when it comes to checking, because if they miss “it’s off to the races.”

Extra ice isn’t the only thing that the University of Illinois Ice Arena has to throw at the Cyclones, as the Illinois student seating is right above the visitor’s bench. The Illinois students will try to aggravate the Cyclones, hoping that the frustration will translate to penalties on the ice.   

Huber said he wants his team to stay focused because if they let Illinois students irritate them into creating penalties, then it gives the Illini a chance to deploy their impressive power play.     

“Guys get a little frustrated,” Huber said. “It is a fun but tough barn to play in.”

This will be the first of two series against the Illini for the Cyclones. This weekend’s games will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, and  at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5.