Season-ending loss in March fuels Cyclone Hockey’s new season


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

Junior Cory Sellers comes to a quick stop when Ohio University passes the puck down rink in the ISU game against Ohio University. The match took place on Oct. 31 in the Ames Ice Arena and ended with Iowa State on top at 2-1.

Austin Anderson

Cyclone Hockey didn’t leave OBM Ice Arena in Strongsville, Ohio, with an American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I championship trophy in March. The team didn’t return home with an upset over eventual national champion Central Oklahoma either.

The Cyclones did, however, end the season with confidence for themselves and the rest of the league that they can compete with anyone.

The loss is still fresh, which makes the anticipation for the first puck drop against the Huntsville Havoc this weekend that much more exciting.

“I have some optimism, and I think the coaching staff does too, that this could be a very good year for us,” said Jason Fairman, who is entering his third season as Cyclone Hockey head coach.

Cyclone Hockey, which finished No. 8 in the country last season, graduated nine seniors, creating many opportunities for younger players to step into more prominent roles.

“[The departed seniors] seems like a big hole to fill,” Fairman said. “But hopefully we have done our job and are able to minimize that with the recruiting class that we have coming in.”

The Cyclones only have three seniors this season, forcing the team to lean heavily on the skill and leadership of cocaptains Alex Stephens and Cory Sellers.

This is the first year Fairman has gone with cocaptains, but it wasn’t a surprise to the duo. Before the banquet in which Sellers and Stephens were named captains, they agreed to split the duties equally.

They already share an apartment and have been friends since they arrived in Ames four years ago so they were pleased with the decision to allow both of them to don the captain’s “C.”

“It doesn’t really matter who wears the letter,” Sellers said. “You’ll play the same role in the locker room and be one of the older guys and a mentor.”

Sellers, who’s been a varsity defenseman for four seasons, helped anchor the defense last season that was the best in team history, allowing just 1.8 goals per game and 80 total.

Fairman gives his defensemen offensive freedom as long as they maintain their defensive responsibility, something he learned from his days as a player and coach at Cornell.

Fairman said his system is part of the reason his defense has had so much success. 

That record-breaking defensive success can be maintained this season and possibly even improved upon.

“The team that doesn’t get scored on is going to win,” Sellers said.

That defense kept the Cyclones in a lot of games last season, but it also overshadowed the less impressive offense that should be much improved this season.

Senior forward Chase Rey returned for the final 17 games of last season after he recovered from shoulder surgery. Following his return, he averaged a team-leading 1.00 point per game.

Sophomore forward Zack Johnson led the team in goals scored before he separated his shoulder with 11 games to go in the season. A potential fully healthy season from those two will go a long way toward achieving their goal for the season — a goal that has eluded the team for the last 23 years.

“I think both of our [Division I and III] teams could win a national championship this year,” Fairman said.

The loss to eventual national champion Central Oklahoma seems to have sparked a fire in the team to be even better than it was last season, and it just might have the firepower in Rey and Johnson to do it.

“This my last year so I’d like to go out with a ring,” Sellers said. “That would be nice.”