Cyclone Hockey takes on potentially “desperate” Missouri State

Forward Adam Alcott waits for a teammate to pass the puck. Cyclone Hockey won against Missouri State University 6-1 on Sept 23.

Spencer Suckow

For the first time since Dec. 9, 2017, Cyclone Hockey will play a team outside the top 10.

That doesn’t mean the team is getting a break, however. Non-league foe Missouri State comes to town this weekend currently ranked No. 18 in the country and fighting for its post-season livelihood.

So while the Bears may not be at the same level talent-wise as the teams Iowa State has played so far this semester, they could be every bit as dangerous.

“[Missouri State] could be a little bit desperate because they’re right on the cusp of making the national tournament and can’t afford to have any losses,” said Jason Fairman, Cyclones head coach and general manager. “It’s difficult to play a desperate team and they might be that way, so that concerns me.”

Add in the fact that the Cyclones themselves are currently on a four-game losing streak, and Fairman says that the team can’t afford to look past any opponent.

Especially not one that swept the Cyclones just last season in Springfield, Missouri. In that series, Fairman noted that he wasn’t happy with Missouri State’s “goonish” style of play, made worse by what he thought was weak officiating.

Missouri State supposedly cleaned things up this season, however. Under new leadership with first-year head coach Jeremy Law, the Bears have attempted to adopt a more disciplined, faster paced style of play similar to that of their rivals in the Western Collegiate Hockey League.

That style shouldn’t come as anything new for the Cyclones. Since this semester began, Iowa State has played top scoring attacks every single weekend.

While the Cyclones have generally played their high-powered opponents evenly, the team has had a combination of crucial mistakes and bad luck lately that’s contributed to their four-game skid.

To get back on track, team members have emphasized staying the course and remaining positive, believing their luck will eventually turn.

“We have been playing well, despite the last few outcomes,” said junior forward Trevor Sabo. “That’s just the way that the game is. The bounces will come. We just need to keep working hard.”

One thing that particularly bodes well for an eventual turnaround has been the overall play of the defense. A unit that at times has struggled with consistency played well the last three weekends against Robert Morris, Illinois and Lindenwood, who are all known for their scoring capabilities.

Echoing the sentiments of his head coach from a few weeks ago, freshman defenseman Justin Paulson said the key to holding their high-octane league rivals in check has been getting back to the basics.

“We’ve really focused in on clearing out in front, getting sticks and getting bodies,” Paulson said. “Just doing the little things that we weren’t doing earlier in the year, we’re doing that now and it’s paying off.”

The defense recently got back one of their most important pieces in junior defenseman Jake Arroyo, which means that a unit that’s stepped up in recent weeks has the opportunity to further improve.

That would be huge for a team that, despite its inconsistency this season, still has its eyes on a national tournament run.

The Cyclones have certainly prepared themselves for the tournament with a grueling schedule, and the team knows that a potentially dangerous Missouri State team is just another challenge that they’ll have to overcome.

“We take every weekend and every team the same,” Paulson said. “Whether it’s Ohio or Missouri State, it doesn’t matter. We’re going in with the same mindset and play hard.”