Cyclone Hockey emphasizes defense heading into the ACHA National Tournament


A.J. Gullickson brings the score to 3-0 9:55 into the second period with Cyclones in the lead against Midland.

Mary Rominger

The Cyclone Hockey team has accomplished many things this season that it hasn’t done in a while.

The team was ranked No.1 nationally for the first time since 1999, won the Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL) regular season title for the first time since 2002, and won its 13th CSCHL Championship since the 2006-07 season.

And now the team has its chance to complete that list and obtain its second national championship in Cyclone Hockey history.

This time last year, the Cyclones entered the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) national tournament as the No. 9 seed. Iowa State went on to defeat No. 8 Colorado, No. 1 Minot State, and No. 2 Stony Brook before falling short 2-1 to Lindenwood in the championship game.

Cyclone Hockey will go into the tournament as a No. 5 seed and have another chance to claim the hardware in Columbus, Ohio, as the quest for the 2017 national championship will commence Saturday. 

Similar to last year, the Cyclones will face No. 12 Colorado in their first game at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday.

The Cyclones pulled off a regular season sweep against the Buffaloes and the team feels comfortable in its systems to continue that trend.

“We have some familiarity with them, but it’s a one game playoff format and anything can happen,” coach Jason Fairman said. “They’ve got some skilled players that can be very opportunistic, so we have to limit their skilled players.”

But with the tournament bringing out the best performances from all teams, it’ll be crucial for the Cyclones to be strong and put defense first.

“We need to play with a lot of energy and intensity,” Fairman said. “If we play our game I think we will be fine.”

The matinee gametime is a slight concern for Fairman as earlier games are naturally hard to adjust to, but Colorado will have the same, if not worse, adversity to face as they are on mountain time.

“A little bit [of concern], these are college students and they’re up a lot of time late studying,” Fairman said. “Hopefully they’ll adjust their sleeping patterns and be ready to go.”

As for the players, captain Chase Rey doesn’t think the early game time will affect the performance from his team.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too big of an issue at all for either team,” Rey said. “We will be there a day early and have practice under our belts and we went through it the past two years so I don’t think that’s going to be a factor.”

Despite last weekend’s series where the Cyclones split with No. 16 Midland, Fairman has no concerns from the loss or anything else moving forward.

“We are all really confident right now and have had some great hockey the past two weeks,” Rey said. “We’ve shown that we can beat some really great teams and we know [tournament will be] the same type of playoff hockey.”