Cyclones to face Sooners in Senior Weekend series

Goaltender Nikita Kozak stretches before the second period against Central Oklahoma on Feb. 1.

James Powell

Cyclone Hockey (18-15-3) has had some meaningful series in the past couple weeks. Traveling to No. 3 Lindenwood after having a wallop of a series against another Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL) rival, No. 4 ranked Ohio, is not for the faint of heart. 

The results show two losses, a tie (with an eventual loss in the shootout after nine rounds) and an overtime win. But there are certainly many things to take from putting yourself to the test against top competition.

“We went toe-to-toe with [arguably] the best team in the nation. If not for a blown one-goal lead, we might be having a very different conversation,” Head Coach Jason Fairman said.

This weekend, No. 20 Oklahoma (18-11-0) brings its team to Ames/ISU Ice Arena for the Cyclone’s last home series of the year. Both teams are fighting for their lives.

It could be construed as a “trap series” if the Cyclones were to have one. They’re coming off a back-and-forth series of games with Lindenwood, with the CSCHL playoffs creeping right around the corner. It could also be easy for emotions to get the better of the players, with this game being the last in Ames for the four seniors.

Captain and senior Dylan Goggin is one of those four seniors that will be seeing their last action at home. Goggin said he’s just hoping to see the team be successful.

“I’ve got a lot of family coming to town and I’ve been playing with these guys for the last three years. I’m going to be out there pushing the tempo, and looking for a good weekend sweep,” Goggin said.

Pushing the tempo is something that was mandated in Iowa State’s last series, as Lindenwood played at a blistering pace.

Oklahoma comes into town also looking to shore up its end of the season. If the season ended today, it’d sneak into the tournament. With this upcoming series and league playoffs still to come, the top 25 is sure to have much variability before it’s all said and done.

The Sooners are a part of the Western Collegiate Hockey League (WCHL). Their process differs from the CSCHL, in that their regular season champion is given an automatic bid to the tournament. Arizona has already secured said automatic bid, with a record of 20-4. Oklahoma will have to hope for an at-large bid with their ranking being in the top 20.

Ames has been kind to the Cyclones this season. They are 10-7 at home (8-8-3 away) and just split a series with Ohio University. Oklahoma is 5-7 on the road, so in that sense, the series favors the home team. 

With only four seniors departing after this season, the Cyclones have a very young team. Fairman has been consistent in saying that he’s proud of the way his team plays and happy with the chances they create.

“They’re very hardworking and very coachable,” Fairman said.

Goal scoring, however, has been the nagging problem that the Cyclones have been unable to shake for some time now. They have the least amount of goals scored in the CSCHL with 79, the next least being 109. 

The two teams play at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Ames/ISU Ice Arena, with senior night festivities taking place before the game on Saturday.