Cyclone Hockey eyes ACHA National Tournament

Junior Aaron Azevedo checks an Ohio player into the boards during the Iowa State vs Ohio University hockey game on February 17th. The Cyclones lost to the Bobcats 6-1.

Allyson Werner

Last year, Cyclone Hockey was left with a bitter taste in its mouth when it was eliminated from the American Collegiate Hockey Association National (ACHA) Tournament in the quarterfinals when they were ousted by the Central Oklahoma Bronchos.

It was the fifth season in a row that the Cyclones were able to reach the quarterfinals, even finishing the 2016 tournament in second place. Since being brought in in 2013, coach Jason Fairman has always been confident in his team and that they should be able to reach the national championship every year.

“We hope that this is one of the many steps to reach the national championship,” Fairman said.

A big issue this season that both players and coaches have concurred about has been based around consistency. With players sometimes not having the right coverage, or surprise goals, it’s something the team has been battling all season.

“It’s up to the guys in the locker room,” Fairman said. “The will to win and the determination is, for the most part, going to determine if we win the national tournament or not, so it is up to them.”

With the release of the ACHA brackets, the Cyclones are set to take on the Robert Morris Eagles in their first game of the 2018 tournament. Similar to the Central States College Hockey League (CSCHL) tournament, the Cyclones will have to travel 10 hours to get to Columbus, Ohio, where the ACHA tournament is being hosted.

The team will once again be leaving Thursday night to hopefully avoid the “bus legs” that have been seen a few times this season in away games.

The Cyclones have faced off against the Eagles multiple times this season with the most recent being during the annual CSCHL tournament when the Cyclones exploded with a four-goal period, eliminating the Eagles in a high-scoring game of 6-3.

“They’ve always been a strong program that has been well coached,” Fairman said. “We have had some great battles over the years and I would expect that it will be just the same on Saturday.”

Unlike the Cyclones, the Eagles have not played in a game since the end of the CSCHL tournament, giving a slight advantage to the Cyclones because just last weekend they played Midland.

The Cyclones and Eagles are slated to start at 9 a.m. CT on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.