Cyclone Hockey’s season ends in quarterfinals


Forward Preston Blanek scores a goal during the Cyclone Hockey match against Midland University on Feb. 28, 2015. 

Luke Manderfeld

Cyclone Hockey’s season came to an end Sunday after dropping a 5-3 game to the Central Oklahoma Bronchos in the quarterfinals of the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament.

The game was characterized by penalties as the teams racked up 22 penalty minutes between them. It naturally became a game for the power play and penalty kill.

The game started out even for the first 13 minutes until a pair of penalties put the teams 4-on-4. 

Enter: the Helanto brothers.

Cyclone Hockey coach Jason Fairman reunited Antti and Eero Helanto on the same line for the game, and they responded with a bang.

With a little more than five minutes left in the opening period and both teams playing 4-on-4, Eero connected with Antti across the blue line for the first goal of the game. Antti sent a slap shot flying past the Broncho goaltender.

A scramble at the end of the game didn’t result in anything for No. 2 Central Oklahoma (30-5-1) as the No. 10 Cyclones (24-14-6) took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

Michael Rivera took the game by the collar in the second period after scoring from the face-off circle for his team’s first goal. He tallied yet another score with his team on the penalty kill by capitalizing on a Cyclone turnover behind the net. 

Rivera wasn’t shy in embellishing his goals against Cyclone goaltender Matt Cooper as he openly made a gesture to the goalie. Cooper responded by spitting on a Broncho player during the next media timeout.

The referee finally had enough of the off-puck antics for both teams and dished out a minor penalty to Cooper for high sticking later in the period and multiple others for after-the-whistle pushes and shoves. 

Following a Broncho slashing penalty, the Cyclones had a power play chance. Jake Bruhn made the most of it by throwing a puck at the net and beating Broncho goaltender Tory Caldwell between the legs. 

The game remained tied at two entering the last intermission.

The Bronchos jumped out to a two-goal lead within the first 10 minutes of the final period.

The Cyclones tried to claw back late with a Scott Antonsen goal to pull within one. They pulled Cooper with 1:22 left in the game, but the team couldn’t find the goal to extend its season and conceded an empty-net score, falling 5-3.

The loss ends the Cyclones’ season. The ACHA tournament continues with the semifinals Monday.