Cyclones ready to use home ice advantage against Ohio University

Some spectators watch the Cyclone hockey game against Central Oklahoma with their dog on Feb. 1st.

James Powell

Coming in at 24th in the latest rankings, Cyclone Hockey remains on the outside looking in as it closes in on the end of its season, but arguably still controls its own destiny and that starts this weekend against the seventh-ranked Bobcats.

The Cyclones (17-13-2) are coming off an 0-2 trip to Illinois, falling 1-0 on Friday and 5-2 Saturday. With three weekends left until the CSCHL playoffs begin, this weekend will go a long way to determine if Cyclone Hockey is good enough to compete in the month of March.

“We’ve played the toughest schedule this season, every game counts […] there’s a small margin of error as the season goes on,” said Head Coach Jason Fairman.

The tough schedule Fairman refers to culminates with a weekend series against Ohio, followed by a Saturday-Sunday series at third-ranked Lindenwood. The schedule then wraps up the regular season in Ames against 17th-ranked Oklahoma.

After scoring two goals all of last weekend, the Cyclones are looking to capitalize on their chances more in order to hang with the offensive attack of the Bobcats, and being at home is one factor to use as motivation.

“It goes a long ways […] even just getting a full week of practice in goes a long way”, defenseman Max Olson said.

The Cyclones outshot their Robert Morris counterparts 104-53. The Cyclones found the back of the net on only 1.9 percent of their shots, while Robert Morris scored on 11.3 percent of theirs.

With the youth of this team and the lack of skaters departing after this season —David Rutkowski and goalie Nikita Kozak are the only two listed as seniors — this team has more than just this season to build upon their success generating chances this year, and will be looking to turn those chances into goals scored next year.

As for the Cyclone’s opponents this weekend, Ohio’s offense is one not to be taken lightly. Tyler Harkins has totaled a whopping 52 points this season, scoring 25 goals (Iowa State’s top scorer has scored 11). Gianni Evangelisti joins his teammate in the 50-point club, picking up 51.

Whichever Cyclones goalie is seen in net, they will have their hands full. Aaron LaChance started both (and lost both) games last weekend, bringing his record to 3-2 on the season.

LaChance has been getting more work in between the pipes as the year has gone on, but if the Cyclones stick with their top-5 ACHA goalie in Kozak to combat the offense of the Bobcats it could be tough for the Bobcats to keep up the pressure on Cyclone Hockey.

The games are scheduled to drop the puck at 7:30 at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday.