Cyclone Hockey starts season fast, sweeps Huntsville in exhibition


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore Eero Helanto returns the puck during the first period of the Cyclone hockey match against Midland University on Feb. 28. The match ended at 13-0.

Austin Anderson

Preston Blanek didn’t have a hat trick on his hockey résumé heading into the weekend.

Following the 12-4 exhibition victory over the Huntsville Havoc to open the season, though, that resume needs an update.

Just over a minute after the puck dropped, Blanek got the Cyclone Hockey season and his career night underway by putting his team up 1-0.

“It was nice to get that first goal after the [season ending loss to Central Oklahoma],” Blanek said. “After the game, it looks like it’s going to be a pretty good year.”

Blanek, a junior, added a power-play goal, notching his second score of the night. He admitted that the thought of a potential hat trick floated in the back of his mind, but it wasn’t until 7:37 left in the final period when that hope was realized.

And just for good measure, Blanek added a late third-period goal for his fourth score of the game. A cherry on top of a victorious opening weekend.

“It’s going to be a game I remember,” Blanek said.

Blanek missed the first semester last season because he hadn’t accumulated enough academic credits. He returned for final 18 games of the season but was never able to fully catch back up to speed, finishing last season with five total goals.

Now, with a full year ahead of him and having already nearly matched his 2014 goal total in only his first game, Blanek should be a big contributor to the team’s success.

“That’s a good sign that he got the four goals,” said Cyclone Hockey head coach Jason Fairman. “We’re counting on him.”

The Cyclones lost nine seniors from the team that finished No. 8 in the country last season, so Fairman will also be counting on a lot of other young players besides Blanek to play big roles this season as well.

“The good thing is that I think we have some skill guys that we can work with,” Fairman said. “My only concern is, because we have a lot of young guys, how long will it take them to get up to that level that we need them to play at?”

Fairman saw some of those young players finish at the net against Huntsville, which helped an offense that struggled to score at times last season. Six freshmen found the back of the net this weekend.

Scoring certainly wasn’t the problem on Friday. On top of Blanek’s four goals, seven other players found the back of the net, including co-captain Alex Stephens.

“Every little baby step you take adds up to big things,” Stephens said. “I think everybody, coaches, players, everybody has pretty high expectations this year. You’ve got to start 1-0 to go somewhere.”

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Cyclones’ scoring for the wasn’t quite as potent as it had been in the first game.

Cory Sellers, fellow co-captain, got the scoring started with a goal in the first period but was matched by Huntsville’s Michael Swiderski a few minutes later.

Cyclone Hockey went on to add three more goals, while the defense proved too tough for the Havoc, leading to a 4-1 Cyclone victory.

Only two games have been played so far this season, but Stephens has already set his expectations high.

“We are pretty bound and determined to win it,” he said. “That’s everyone’s goal this year, to win it all.”