Cyclone Hockey stressing little things heading into weekend series


Iowa State junior forward Preston Blanek (12) shoots the puck during the game against Illinois State Saturday night. The Cyclones would go on to beat the Redbirds 6-3.

Ben Visser

The little things will be important when No. 5 Cyclone Hockey plays the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II Augustana Vikings this weekend at the ISU/Ames Ice Arena.

Last weekend, the Cyclones swept then-No. 2 Lindenwood in two hard-fought games that ended 4-3 and 1-0 in favor of the Cyclones. This weekend, the Cyclones will have to set the tone early to take care of business.

Cyclone Hockey coach Jason Fairman stresses the first five minutes, co-captain Alex Stephens said. 

“I think that’ll be huge, especially against maybe a weaker team, if we get out there and pop a goal, or two goals, in the first five to 10 minutes,” Stephens said.

Augustana wants to move up to the Division I level, so it has been playing other Division I teams to garner more experience. The Cyclones shouldn’t have a problem beating the Vikings as long as they bring the effort, said forward Preston Blanek.

The Cyclones played junior college team Williston State on Tuesday. They rested their starters and didn’t take Williston State seriously, ending up absorbing a 3-2 loss. 

Augustana took on Williston State during the weekend and lost 14-2.

Despite Augustana’s history, the Cyclones think it will be a game to take seriously.

“I think it’s really just going to be about effort,” Blanek said. “We can lose to teams if we don’t bring the effort. The better team can lose the game.”

Assistant coach Andrew Callaghan was happy with the little things against Lindenwood. The team made progress with defensive details, and it stayed out of the penalty box for the most part.

The Cyclones would like to keep those trends going against the Vikings. 

The Cyclones are staying out of the penalty box more, in part because their young players are becoming more disciplined. In junior hockey, there is more of an aggressive mentality, but the team’s youth is learning how the game is refereed at this level.

“I think over the past few weeks guys are starting to keep a cool head,” Callaghan said. “I think [penalties] will be going down more than they already are. I thought we’ve done a pretty good job lately of not retaliating and trying to stay out of the box.”

It would be easy to take a Division II team lightly, but the Cyclones are still practicing hard and preparing for this team like any other squad with more prestige.

“Keep doing what we are doing. Our practices have been pretty sharp, we’ve been doing everything right, everybody’s staying healthy, so that’s a big part of it,” Stephens said. “The little things are really paying off now.”

The Cyclones will try to keep the momentum going from the Lindenwood sweep into the weekend against Augustana. They will focus on getting pucks to the front of the opponent’s net and continuing their week-to-week improvement as a team.

“[Augustana is] an improving program,” Callaghan said. “Systematically, [we don’t know] a ton. We worry about ourselves more than we do the other teams most of the time. We’ll find out Friday, but we will be ready to go.”