2018 Kelly Cup Playoff Notes: Game 1 vs. Ft. Wayne
Kelly Cup Playoffs Divisional Semifinal
Vs. Ft. Wayne Komets - Game 1
Saturday, April 14, 2018 - 7:35pm ET
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum - Ft. Wayne, IN
Overview: The Cyclones take on the Ft. Wayne Komets in the Divisional Semifinal round of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Komets enter the series as the second seed in the Central, while Cincinnati holds down the third seed. This is the third time since 2014 that the Cyclones and Komets have met in the playoffs, with Ft. Wayne prevailing in seven games in the 2016 Western Conference Quarterfinals, and the Cyclones taking a six-game series during the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Season Series Recap: The Cyclones posted a 5-4-0-0 record against the Komets this season, with two of those wins coming in overtime. Cincinnati started out the nine-game series hot, winning each of the first four games between the two sides and outscoring the Komets 18-9 in those contests. Ft. Wayne turned the tide in the final five games, posting a 4-0-1-0 record in those contests, while outscoring Cincinnati, 23-11.
The Cyclones are in the playoffs for the ninth time in the last 12 years after finishing third in the Central Division, three points ahead of the Indy Fuel who locked up their spot on the season’s last day. The Cyclones had one of the top power play groups during the regular season, ranking second in both overall (20.1%- 56/279) and home (24.1%- 33/137) conversion rates. Cincinnati was one of the ECHL’s strongest teams when playing with a lead as well, posting a 22-8-1-0 record when leading after one, and a 26-4-0-0 mark when up after two periods.
Previewing Cincinnati: The Cyclones were led by All-ECHL Second Team member Jesse Schultz, who ranked second in League scoring with 75 points, including a League-leading 57 assists. He also led the Cyclones in power play scoring with 32 points (3g, 29a). He was followed by the reigning ECHL Rookie of the Year, Justin Danforth, who accounted for 28 goals and 31 assists in 44 ECHL games played. Defenseman and team captain Eric Knodel placed third on the Cyclones and in League defenseman scoring with 13 goals and 39 assists, earning him a spot on the All-ECHL Second Team as well, while forward Daniel Muzito-Bagenda came in fourth with 46 points (19g, 27a) in 46 games played. Team-goals leader Justin Vaive rounded out the top five in scoring with 32 goals and 19 assists. Between the pipes, both Jonas Johansson and Jason Kasdorf virtually split time right down the middle, with Johansson recording a 14-11-1-0 record along with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage, while Kasdorf countered with a 13-11-1-0 record with a 3.04 GAA and a .903 SV%.
Previewing Ft. Wayne: The Komets finished second in the ECHL’s Central Division, seven points back of the Toledo Walleye in first. This is the fifth consecutive trip to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the Komets, who have advanced past the first round in each of the previous four seasons. Ft. Wayne wrapped up the 2017-18 season with the ECHL’s top offense, scoring 290 total goals for an average of 4.03 goals per game. Additionally, Ft. Wayne ranked just ahead of the Cyclones in ninth place with 3.00 goals allowed per 60 minutes. They were led by the ECHL’s top scorer in Shawn Szydlowski, who accounted for 31 goals and 48 assists through 64 games this season. He was followed by Garrett Thompson who netted 29 goals along with 42 helpers, and team goals leader Gabriel Desjardins, who totaled 67 points (33g, 34a) in 58 games this season. In goal, former Cyclone Michael Houser led the way with a 28-11-4-0 record, along with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Single Game Playoff Tickets Now on Sale: Tickets for the first round of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs are now on sale. Tickets start at $18.00 for rows two and higher, and are just $30.50 for the front row on the glass. Cyclones playoff packages for every round of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs are already on sale, and start at $288 per seat for the general public and include all 16 potential playoff games.
Danforth Named ECHL Rookie of the Year: The Cincinnati Cyclones, proud ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Buffalo Sabres and the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Rochester Americans, and in conjunction with the ECHL, have announced that forward Justin Danforth has been named the CCM ECHL Rookie of the Year. This is the third postseason award for Danforth, who was also named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team as well as the All-ECHL Second Team. Currently skating with the Americans, and despite not skating in a ECHL game in nearly two months, Danforth ranks third amongst ECHL rookies with 28 goals and 31 assists, along with a team-leading plus-24 on-ice rating, through 44 games with the Cyclones this season. Before his recall on February 13, Danforth was riding a seven-game point streak totaling seven goals and 10 assists in that time, and he also enjoyed an 11-game point streak from November 18-December 15, accounting for seven goals and 10 assists in that span. Additionally, he has appeared in 15 games with the Americans this season, accounting for a pair of goals and three assists.
Cyclones Earn ECHL Honors: This week, the ECHL announced that forward Justin Danforth has been named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team. Additionally, Danforth, along with forward Jesse Schultz and defenseman and team captain Eric Knodel have been named to the All-ECHL Second Team. Currently skating with the Americans, Danforth ranks second amongst ECHL first years with 28 goals and 31 assists, along with a team-leading plus-24 on-ice rating, through 44 games with the Cyclones this season. Before his recall on February 13, Danforth was riding a seven-game point streak totaling seven goals and 10 assists in that time, and he also enjoyed an 11-game point streak from November 18-December 15, accounting for seven goals and 10 assists in that span. Additionally, he has appeared in 15 games with the Americans this season, accounting for a pair of goals and three assists. He was also the Cyclones’ representative in this season’s CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic, recording a goal and emerging victorious in the Fastest Skater Competition, setting a new ECHL record with a lap of 12.75 seconds. Schultz leads the Cyclones and ranks second in ECHL scoring with 18 goals and a League-leading 57 assists in 71 games played. He recently enjoyed an eight-game point streak from March 10-23 where he amassed a pair of goals and nine assists in that time. He also experienced a 13-game heater from November 25-December 27, totaling nine goals and 14 assists in that span. Currently in his second season with the Cyclones, Knodel is tied for third amongst League rearguards with 13 goals and 38 assists for in 56 games this season. His 13 goals tie him for fifth in the league, while his 39 assists place him in fourth amongst defensemen. He has also appeared in six games for the Americans.
Power Surge: The Cyclones wrapped up the season with the ECHL’s second-best power play at 20.1% (56/279) and tallied at least one power play goal in 23 of their final 34 games, going 31-for-118 in that stretch (26.3%). They also had the second-ranked home power play unit at 24.1% (33/137).
Finishing What They Started: The Cyclones went 26-4-0-0 record when leading through two periods this season. This is a continuing trend from last season, when the Cyclones were 23-1-3-1 when leading after one, and 26-1-2-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
New Affiliation: This offseason, the Cyclones, in conjunction with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Buffalo Sabres, announced a new affiliation agreement. For Cincinnati, the move comes following a 10-year partnership with the Nashville Predators, while the Sabres recently concluded a two-year relationship with the now-defunct Elmira Jackals. This affiliation will be a reunion of sorts for the cities of Cincinnati and Buffalo, as the Sabres’ American Hockey League (AHL) Affiliate from 1971-1974 was the Cincinnati Swords. The Rochester Americans will serve as Cincinnati’s new AHL affiliate, and have been the AHL affiliate of the Sabres since 2011. This is not the first time Cincinnati and Rochester have been affiliated, as the two clubs teamed up in 2010-11 when the Americans were affiliated with the Florida Panthers.
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