Frustration sets in for Cyclone Hockey

Luke Manderfeld

“Frustrating.” That’s how hockey captain Mike Dopko described the Cyclone Hockey season so far. With both players and coaches echoing that same sentiment throughout the season, the Cyclones’ year didn’t get any easier over the weekend.

Dropping two of three games played — the losses being to American Collegiate Hockey Association opponent Minot State — Cyclone Hockey had trouble finding success.

Even though the team says it has been playing well, it hasn’t shown in the win-loss column.

“We are eight goals away from being a first-place team,” Dopko said. “A lot of good things are happening; we just aren’t getting the bounces. We would much rather have our struggles be at the beginning of the season rather than the end of the season.”

Those eight goals refer to the eight one-goal games the Cyclones have ceded so far against ACHA opponents. Turning those loses into wins, the Cyclones record would currently stand at 18-1, which would certainly contend for tops in the conference

But, as everyone knows, wins are wins.

“The bottom line is that we are losing,” said Cyclone Hockey coach Jason Fairman. “If we catch a few bounces, we are a top-ranked team, but we can’t really hang our heads on moral victories. We have played some really competitive teams who played well and deserved to win as much as us.”

After conceding three goals early in the Nov. 8 game against Minot State, the Cyclones turned it on and scored two quick goals in the third period to cut the Beavers’ lead to one. It wasn’t enough to knot the score, though, but the team was certainly happy with the late-game performance.

“The way we played on the third period [Nov. 8] was one of the best I have seen from this team in my time coaching,” Fairman said. “I thought we were going to get it done, but we obviously didn’t.”

Cyclone Hockey showed its resilience with a 4-0 win over National Junior College Athletic Association team Dakota College-Bottineau on Nov. 9.

On the heels of the two-goal third period the night before, the Cyclones looked confident in their play in the game. Cyclone Hockey out-shot its opposition 50-23, and the defense limited the Lumberjacks to few scoring chances en route to the Cyclones’ tenth win of the season.

“Everything came together [Nov. 9],” said assistant captain Nate Percy. “We got some much-needed goals, and we had a high-intensity game.”

Looking ahead to their next opponent, the University of Illinois, the Cyclones will draw upon their play over the weekend to try for a win.

“Hopefully we can take from our performance in the third period [Nov. 8] and our win [Nov. 9],” Percy said. “It’s always tough to play Illinois in their home rink, but if we keep up the goal scoring like in those two games over practice then hopefully we can go there and get some wins.”