Cyclone Hockey looking to bounce back against junior league opponent

Iowa State competes against University of Illinois for the puck in a competitive defensive battle.

Austin Anderson

Disappointment lingered in the Cyclone Hockey locker room after last Saturday’s shootout loss to Central States Hockey League rival Illinois. The Cyclones nearly doubled the Illini in shots and completely dominated possession of the puck but still came up short.

After the game, players and coaches acknowledged the feelings of displeasure, but also noted that the team had to move on to the next game.

The next game has arrived for the Cyclones, but it won’t be a traditional weekend of hockey at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena. When the schedule was released in August, Cyclone Hockey was scheduled to face off against Iowa at home Friday night, then travel to Iowa City to face off against the Hawkeyes again on Saturday.

But Iowa has backed out of playing the Cyclones: First back in December and again this weekend. Instead, Cyclone Hockey will host the Twin City Steel, a junior league team of the NA3HL, for one single game on Friday night.

Because of the schedule change, the Steel are largely a mystery to the Cyclones. Captain Alex Stephens said he doesn’t know much about the Steel other than they are a junior league team from Minnesota.

Twin City is made up of players 16-20-year-olds, which will make the Cyclones youngest players older than the Steel’s oldest players.

“There’s a chance I’ll be playing guys six years younger than myself,” said defenseman Jake Uglem.

Uglem, who is 22, is still only a sophomore, which means the age difference will be even greater for seniors like Stephens, who is 24.

The series will also only consist of one game, allowing the Cyclones some rest heading down the stretch of the regular season.

“It’s a definite benefit,” Uglem said. ”The bodies get an extra day of rest. Games are a lot more physical than practice, so it is nice to have one more day of rest for the bodies.”

This weekend will provide an extra opportunity to rest with a month and a half remaining in the season. Following Friday night’s game, defending national champion Central Oklahoma is coming to the Ames/ISU Ice Arena looking to avenge an early season sweep at the feet of the Cyclones.

“You always see who’s coming up,” Stephens said. “It’s been a tough second semester and it still will be. The shootout loss to Illinois, those are points that we wish we could have had but you take every opportunity you can get. [Central Oklahoma] and Robert Morris, who we have left, are both ranked teams so every game counts.”

After the disappointment of not coming away with a sweep they should have had last weekend against Illinois, the Cyclones refused the dissatisfaction to hang over at practice and are looking to rebound against the Twin City Steel.

“I feel like everybody’s got kind of a little chip on their shoulder from that loss,” Uglem said. “We put in a good effort but pucks just didn’t really bounce for us. We’re looking to bounce back this Friday.”