HOCKEY: Cyclones gear up for grudge match

HOCKEY: Cyclones gear up for grudge match


HOCKEY: Cyclones gear up for grudge match

By Jordan Wickstrom

The Cyclones hope to add on to their five-game winning streak this weekend when they host the No. 9 Kent State Golden Flashes. 

The Cyclones have not had much luck recently against the Golden Flashes, as they were beaten by Kent State in all three games last year. 

“It’s a bit of a grudge match with Kent State,” coach Al Murdoch said.  

For Iowa State, this will be a statement series. Despite playing very well against the second-ranked Lindenwood University, the Cyclones have not played against many ranked opponents yet.  

“We haven’t played too many top 10 teams this year,” sophomore forward Mike Lebler said. “Two wins against Kent State would be a huge boost for our team and would definitely prove that we belong in top 10 or top five teams in the ACHA.” 

Fresh off winning the 925th game of his career, Murdoch understands that the team cannot get too confident and look past a team as talented as Kent State. 

“[Kent State is] a well-coached hockey team, they’ve got a lot of upperclassmen, they’ve been playing really well, they’ve got good goaltending, so it’ll be a real test for us,” Murdoch said. 

Despite the team’s early success, junior forward Brian Spring realizes the team is still overlooked by many opponents. However, Spring also said that being overlooked can play to the team’s advantage. 

“Overall we’re still not at our peak,” Spring said. “In a way, it’s good we haven’t peaked yet because we’ve hit a couple lows against unranked teams. I don’t think we’ll get too overconfident because we still feel that we’re underdogs all the time. I don’t think other teams give us too much credit.

“I think we’re coming in under the radar because I don’t think teams have seen us coming but I think by the end of the year, they will.” 

This series also marks the beginning of a tough stretch for the Cyclones. This stretch of games includes the weekend series against No. 9 Kent State, then games against No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 11 Central Oklahoma the following week. The Cyclones will travel to Annapolis for the Navy Thanksgiving tournament and then begin December with a pair of home games against No. 13 Ohio. 

The players and coaches agree this stretch of games will not be easy, and it will only get tougher if they are unable to pick up a win against Kent State.  

“This is huge, this is big for us,” Lebler said. “Our schedule so far this year has built up to these next couple of weekends and the weekends before have been preparing us for some of the harder teams, but I think we’ll be strong and we’ll be ready for these next couple of weekends.” 

Spring also felt the Kent State series was important for future success.

“It’s definitely a huge stretch, it’s the big point in our season,” Spring said. “If we come out above .500 or maybe win all the games, either way that would be huge for this team because starting off on a good note is something we need to do.

“… So if we lose these first games against Kent State it’s going to be really tough to get some confidence heading into Oklahoma, so these first couple of games are very important.”