Ohio series starts Cyclones’ stretch of road games

The Iowa State hockey team played Missouri State on Sept. 27.

Jared Bravard

After sweeping Jamestown last weekend, seventh-ranked Cyclone Hockey (6-4) will travel to Athens this weekend to face the sixth-ranked Bobcats of Ohio University (6-0).

The Cyclones started the season 3-0, followed by one win and four losses over the next five games. They bounced back last weekend against the Jamestown Jimmies, a team that swept then top-ranked and now third-ranked Minot State.

The high-scoring Bobcats are averaging just shy of seven goals per game, while giving up fewer than two goals per game.

Cyclone defenseman Max Olson believes the Cyclones are up to the task.

“I think it’ll be a really even matchup,” Olson said. “I think the guys are ready for it.”

This will be the second series this season where the Cyclones and their opponent are each ranked in the top ten nationally. They faced second-ranked Lindenwood earlier this month.

The Cyclones enter this weekend coming off of their first sweep since the season opener against Waldorf and will look to continue such play.

“Just play the way we did this past weekend and I think we’ll be pretty successful,” said coach Jason Fairman. “They have some good players. They have some seniors that are pretty good; we’ll have to watch that.”

One of those seniors is Bobcat forward Tyler Harkins. He has 22 points this season, which has him tied for most in the nation. Two other senior Bobcats — Gianni Evangelisti and Jacob Houston — also have double-digit points with 15 and 12, respectively.

Alternatively, the Cyclones are holding opponents to 1.5 goals per game. They also have not given up more than three goals in a single game this season.

“We always take pride in our defense.” Fairman said. “I think we’ve always been among the lowest goals against in the nation pretty much every year and certainly, usually top five.”

In addition to the high scoring, the Bobcats are also a highly penalized team, averaging almost seven penalties per game. The Cyclones had success on power plays against Jamestown. They scored seven total goals in the series, four while the Jimmies were down a man.

Converting power plays is a factor in success. The Cyclones are averaging 3.2 goals per game in wins this season and 0.5 goals in losses.

“We always want to capitalize on [power plays],” Fairman said. “Usually [when] we play them, there aren’t many penalties. If you get power play opportunities, you’ve got to take advantage of them.”

The tough schedule thus far for the Cyclones has helped them prepare for this weekend.

They have faced three ranked teams already this season — Missouri State, Lindenwood and Jamestown. Cyclone Hockey has also faced Illinois State, a team currently receiving votes.

“Our schedule is designed so we just slowly ramp up,” Olson said. “The past two weekends [were] top ranked teams. We held our own against them.”

The Bobcats are the Cyclones’ second conference opponent of the year, with Lindenwood being their first. With these two teams being neighbors in the national rankings, this series is bound to shake up the conference and national standings, lessening the room for error.

Five goals separated the Cyclones and Bobcats over the five games they played against each other last season, with the Bobcats having the edge 13-8.

“These conference games are usually tight affairs,” Fairman said.

The Cyclones have played seven of their 10 games at home this season. Starting this weekend, that will change. The trip to Athens begins a stretch of road games for the Cyclones. Of the next five series, four of them will be away from Ames.

Of the five upcoming teams, four — Ohio, Central Oklahoma, Illinois and Minot State — are currently ranked in the top ten nationally.

“Road trips are fun because everyone’s together,” Olson said. “It’s good team bonding.”

The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The two games will take place in Bird Arena.