Consistency issues plague Cyclone Hockey again in series split with Ohio

Junior Kurt Halbach fights to retain possession of the puck in Iowa State territory during the third period of the Iowa State vs Ohio University hockey game on February 16th. The Cyclones defeated the Bobcats 5-2. 

Spencer Suckow

In a bit of an extreme example, Cyclone Hockey’s series against Ohio summed up their season to date.

After an impressive 5-2 victory against the No. 4 team in the country on Friday night, the Cyclones were dominated by the Bobcats to the tune of a 6-1 loss.

Not only were the Cyclones outplayed, but the team also once again fell victim to the inconsistency and bad bounces that have plagued and frustrated them all season.

“They got those two quick goals and it seemed like we kind of checked out after that point in the game,” said head coach and general manager Jason Fairman. “We didn’t respond well.”

As Fairman said, the Cyclones received a gut punch early by giving up two goals within the first three minutes of the first period.

To make matters worse, Iowa State then gave up two goals in the first two minutes of the second period, which essentially buried the Cyclones’ chances of getting back into the game.

The rapid-fire scoring led to a rarely seen sequence in hockey, where starting senior goaltender Derek Moser was pulled in favor of fellow senior Matt Goedeke after just 5:30 of game time, only to be put back in early in the second period after Goedeke struggled to open the second period.

Fitting with the theme of inconsistency, Moser particularly struggled just one night after stopping 40 shots.

Not the first time Moser has fared poorly against Ohio, the normally reliable senior has now given up 11 goals in three games this season against the Bobcats, including five in a game back on Jan. 12 in Athens, Ohio.

While the Bobcats’ first goal of the game, courtesy of sophomore forward Timmy Thurnau, was more due to a deflection of the puck, Moser gave up a much softer goal just moments later to Garrett Jenkins when he couldn’t hang onto a puck in his upper body.

Moser was also beat five-hole by Bobcats’ freshman forward Zach Frank early in the second period, and gave up one more goal in the game’s final period.

“I would honestly tell you that I want all four of those [goals] back,” Moser said. “For me, I feel for the guys. I have to be sharp every game now and definitely leave it in the past.”

Similarly struggling on Saturday following a great night on Friday was the Iowa State offense. After scoring five goals and throwing 34 shots on net the night before, the Cyclones struggled to get consistent pressure offensively most of the night.

While Iowa State did get more offensive zone time as the game wore on, this came well after the game’s outcome was in hand.

According to junior forward Tony Uglem, these struggles weren’t the result of Ohio doing anything noticeably different from Friday night. Rather, it was a case of the Cyclones simply not converting on the chances available to them, further adding fuel to the team’s inconsistency fire.

“We’ve got to [convert on chances] every game,” Uglem said. “It’s simple, but we seem to be struggling with it right now.”

So how do the Cyclones fix their issues and become more like the dominant team they were Friday night, instead of the team that got ran out of their own building Saturday?

Last week, Fairman didn’t have an answer for that question, saying that it was his job to figure something out.

After this week, Fairman still didn’t have an answer, which means that the team might just be what they are at this point. That being a team that can make a national tournament run and beat any opponent in the American Collegiate Hockey Association on any given night, or a team that can similarly lay an egg at any time and get bounced in the opening round.

The inconsistency has yet to waver the confidence of players, though. Much like the last few weeks, the team remains just as sure as ever that they can make a run in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League and American Colligate Hockey Association tournaments.

Part of that confidence comes from the team knowing that they won the CSCHL tournament last year, and the Cyclones will get the chance to defend that title next week when the team travels to Athens, Ohio, for the tournament.

Even though Iowa State will be a low-seeded team in the tournament because of their record this season, it doesn’t bother the team members. Moser pointed out that just two years ago the Robert Morris University Eagles won the CSCHL tournament as the lowest seeded team.

On top of that, Uglem adds that the Cyclones beat each team in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League this season. Uglem also knows, however, that in order to make the kind of run that the team wants, they need to put together consecutive strong performances.

While that’s been a struggle all season for Iowa State, Uglem believes that he at least has an idea of how to turn the problem around.

“Just a good week of practice will get us off on the right foot,” Uglem said. “We know that we can beat the teams, now we just need to come to work and do what we know how to do.”