Cyclone Hockey takes on UNLV in a top 15 matchup

Freshmen Bronson McLeod blocks a Illinois State University player on Sept. 23. The Cyclones defeated Illinois State 4-1.

Spencer Suckow

Coming off a sweep against a struggling Arkansas Razorbacks team, Cyclone hockey will once again get back to facing ranked foes this weekend when the UNLV Skatin’ Rebels come to town for a series.

Like Arkansas last week, UNLV is a recent addition to the Division 1 level, with the difference being that this is the Rebels first season playing at the ACHA’s highest level instead of their third. The most notable distinction between the two teams, however, is the level of success that UNLV has had this season as opposed to the Razorbacks.

Although they were swept last week against ACHA powerhouse Ohio University, the Rebels have nonetheless had a very nice start to their first Division 1 season. The team currently sits at 14th in the ACHA computer polls, and features high level players that are more than capable of causing trouble for Iowa State if the Cyclones aren’t careful.

“They’re going to be a good team,” said junior forward Aaron Azevedo. “They have some good players, but we’re more focused on what we’re doing right now. It’s early in the season, we’re trying to progress as a team, do everything right and go from there.”

Making the challenge even more difficult will be the loss of leading scorer Tony Uglem for Friday night’s game. Uglem was involved in a fight with Arkansas defenseman Cal Owens during the second period of last Saturday’s game between the two teams, and by ACHA rules has to sit out a game as punishment.

This means other players on the Cyclones will have to pick up the slack to make up for the loss of Uglem scoring capabilities, and head coach Jason Fairman expects just that to happen.

“We’ve got players who can step in,” Fairman said. “Obviously when your leading scorer is going to be out for a night it’s going to have an impact, but we’ll find someone else who can play.”

In the team’s aforementioned sweep against the Razorbacks, the Cyclones dominated play for essentially the entire series. In addition to being outshot by a 72-41 margin in two games, the Razorbacks were also held scoreless for the first five periods of play last weekend.

However, in the final period, the Cyclones were left with a sour taste in their mouth when the Razorbacks scored two late goals with under four minutes remaining, resulting in a closer-than-it-was score of 3-2. Fairman said that this disappointed him, because he thought that the team got lazy toward the end of the game and should have gotten a shutout for starting goalie Matt Goedeke.

Despite the disappointing ending, one bright spot throughout the entire weekend was the Cyclones all-freshman line of forwards. Coach Fairman praised the performances of Dylan Goggin, Andrew Lee and Bryan Bandyk, the first two of which got their first career goals last weekend, saying that the three have been playing at a high level since the Lindenwood series.

While the praise is nice and gives the group confidence, Goggin says it’s not something that they can get up in it, and that they need to continue working to improve.

“We’ve still got to be working behind the scenes and do everything we can to keep getting better,” Goggin said. “Obviously as freshmen it’s nice to get praise, but we’ve got to keep doing what we did to earn that praise.”

The freshmen line and the rest of the Cyclones will look to continue their success when the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night at Ames/ISU Ice Arena. Proceeds from the series will be donated to help aid the recovery of Nick Robone, a UNLV assistant coach who was injured in the Las Vegas mass shooting.