GAME PREVIEW: 2019 Division Finals Game 1 vs. Toledo
For Immediate Release: April 25, 2019
Kelly Cup Playoffs – Divisional Finals
Game 1 vs. Toledo Walleye (Best-of-Seven Series Tied, 0-0)
Thursday, April 23, 2019 – 7:35pm ET
U.S. Bank Arena – Cincinnati, OH
Game 1: Thursday, 4/25 – Cincinnati vs. Toledo @ 7:35pm (Dollar Beer Night ft. Miller Highlife and PBR)
Game 2: Saturday, 4/27 – Cincinnati AT Toledo @ 7:35pm
Game 3: Wednesday, 5/1 - Cincinnati AT Toledo @ 7:35pm
Game 4: Friday, 5/3 - Cincinnati AT Toledo @ 7:35pm
Game 5: Saturday, 5/4 – Cincinnati vs. Toledo @ 7:35pm
Game 6: Tuesday, 5/7 – Cincinnati vs. Toledo @ 7:35pm (Dollar Beer Night ft. Miller Highlife and PBR)
Game 7: Wednesday, 5/8 - Cincinnati vs. Toledo @ 7:35pm (Dollar Beer Night ft. Miller Highlife and PBR)
Italics Indicate Game to be Played if necessary
BOLD Indicates Cyclones Home Game
Overview: The Cyclones kick off the Central Division Finals on Thursday night against the Toledo Walleye in Game 1 of the series. The Cyclones advanced to Round 2 following a 4-0 shutout of the Kalamazoo Wings in Game 6 of the Central Division Semifinals on Tuesday evening, giving Cincinnati a 4 games to 2 series win. The victory over Kalamazoo marked Cincinnati’s first playoff series win since the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals when they defeated the Greenville Road Warriors in six games. This is the third all-time playoff meeting between Cincinnati and Toledo, with the Cyclones earning first round victories in 2007 (3-0) and 2013 (4-2).
Round 1 Recap: The Cyclones defeated the Kalamazoo Wings in the Central Division Semifinals, 4 games to 2 to advance to the second round. The Cyclones were victorious in Games 1, 3, 4, and 6, and outscored Kalamazoo, 20-12 in the six games. Special teams played a deciding factor in the series as well, as the ‘Clones were 25% (7/28) on the power play, and allowed just five goals on 23 shorthanded chances. They were led by defenseman Mitch Jones and forward Myles Powell who each accounted for a pair of goals and an assist, along with forward Brady Vail who registered a goals and five helpers. Goaltender Michael Houser posted a 4-2-0 mark with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
Season Series Recap: The Cyclones and Walleye met nine times in the regular season, with Cincinnati posting a 5-2-2-0 mark in those contests and outscoring Toledo, 26-20, in those contests. The season series was tight between the two teams, as seven of the nine meetings were decided by two or fewer goal. Cincinnati went 3-1-1-0 at U.S. Bank Arena, and were 2-1-1-0 in Toledo. Forward Brady Vail led the way for the Cyclones in the season series, accounting for three goals and six assists for nine points. He was followed by forward Vas Glotovwho totaled seven points (5g, 2a) and forwards Jesse Schultz and Alex Wideman who each had a pair of goals and four assists. In goal,Michael Houser started all nine contests, posting a 5-2-2-0 mark along with a 2.23 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
2018-19 Regular Season Results:
Cincinnati 3 vs. Toledo 2 (Apr 3 2019) Final
Toledo 2 vs. Cincinnati 1 (Mar 31 2019) Final OT
Toledo 4 vs. Cincinnati 3 (Mar 21 2019) Final
Cincinnati 5 vs. Toledo 2 (Feb 16 2019) Final
Cincinnati 2 vs Toledo 1 (Feb 15 2019) Final
Toledo 3 vs Cincinnati 2 (Jan 25 2019) Final
Cincinnati 4 vs. Toledo 1 (Dec 31 2018) Final
Cincinnati 3 vs. Toledo 1 (Dec 5 2018) Final
Toledo 4 vs. Cincinnati 3 (Oct 24 2018) Final OT
BOLD indicates a Cyclones home game
Previewing Toledo: The Walleye find themselves in the second round following a 4 games to 2 series win over the Ft. Wayne Komets in the Central Division Semifinals. This is the third straight season, and fourth time in the last five years that Toledo has advanced past the opening round. Last season, Toledo fell in round two in six games to the Komets, one season after advancing to the Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Eagles where they dropped a five-game series. Toledo is the top defensive team this post season, allowing a league-low 1.83 goals per game, and are third with 3.67 goals scored. Forward Dylan Sadowy leads the team in 2019 playoff scoring with four goals and four assists, followed by forwards Zach Gallan t(4g, 3a) and Greg Wolfe (2g, 4a). In goal, Pat Nagle has skated in all six games, accounting for a record of 4-1-1 along with a 1.59 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. The Walleye finished the regular season in second place in the ECHL’s Central Division, 21 points back of the Cyclones. They finished eighth in the League with, 3.29 goals per game, and eleventh in team defense with 3.07 goals-allowed per 60 minutes. The Walleye were amongst the top teams in the League in several categories and situations, including home record (23-9-4), record when scoring first (32-6-5), record when leading after two periods (29-0-3), and record in one-goal games (20-6-6). They were led offensively by forward Shane Berschbach who amassed 20 goals and 43 assists for 63 points. He was followed by forwards TJ Hensick (17g, 41a) and Wolfe (18g, 33a) who round out the top three. In goal, Nagle shouldered the bulk of the load, appearing in 41 games with a record of 22-14-2-1 along with a 2.81 GAA and a .910 SV%.
Cyclones Clean Up: Cincinnati took four of the five individual postseason awards, as forward Jesse Schultz, defenseman Eric Knodel, goaltender Michael Houser, and head coach Matt Thomas all earned ECHL hardware. Schultz earned League MVP honors after leading the ECHL with 22 goals and a League-leading 58 assists for a career-high 80 points through 71 games, and was third with 22 power play assists and tied for sixth with 25 power play points. Schultz also earned the ECHL scoring title, and was also named to the All-ECHL First Team last week. Knodel led all defensemen with 53 points (17g, 36a), and ranked third with an on-ice rating of plus-38. His 17 goals tied him for first and his 36 assists placed him fourth amongst League blueliners in those respective categories. Additionally, he was second amongst League rearguards in both power play points (25) and power play assists (19), and he was second with six man-advantage goals. He was also named the AMI Graphics ECHL Plus Performer of the Month for February, after posting an on-ice rating of plus-16 through 13 games during the month. Houser, who was named to the All-ECHL First Team last week, led all ECHL netminders with a record of 29-7-4-1, and was second with a 2.13 goals-against average. He also placed fourth in the ECHL with a .922 save percentage. His 29 wins tied him for the League-lead amongst ECHL netminders, and he allowed more than three goals on just seven occasions. Additionally, he made 25 or more saves in all but 12 outings this season. Houser was also named the Warrior Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Month for December after a perfect 6-0-0-0 record along with a 1.17 goals against average and a .950 save percentage. In his first season behind the Cyclones bench, Thomas guided the Cyclones to a League-best 51-13-5-3 record for 110 points, earning the team’s second-ever Brabham Cup as ECHL regular season champions, along with the team’s first division title since the 2012-13 season. The Cyclones achieved a 30-2-2-2 mark on home ice, tying an ECHL record for most home wins and fewest home losses, and also led the League with an average of 3.92 goals scored per game and goals against with 2.44. Thomas was also named head coach of the Western Conference All-Stars at this season’s CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic in Toledo.
Home Sweet Home: Cincinnati concluded the ECHL regular season with a League-best 30-2-2-0 record at home, tying the all-time ECHL mark for most home wins in a season as well as fewest regulation home losses. The Cyclones outscored teams 155-73 at U.S. Bank Arena, and had a record of 16-0-2-2 when leading after one period, and a 22-0-0-2 mark when ahead through 40 minutes.
Cyclones Claim Brabham Cup: The Cincinnati Cyclones earned the 2018-19 Brabham Cup as ECHL Regular Season Champions. This is the second Brabham Cup for the Cyclones who also took the prize during the 2007-08 campaign, before ultimately going on to win their first of two Kelly Cup championships in a three-year span. The Brabham Cup solidifies Cincinnati as the top seed in the ECHL overall, and guarantees the ‘Clones home ice advantage throughout the entirety of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club. The Cyclones clinched the ECHL’s Central Division title back on March 20, marking their first division title since the 2012-13 season. They ultimately fell to the eventual Kelly Cup champion Reading Royals in the Eastern Conference Finals that season. This will the 10th trip to the postseason for the Cyclones since returning to action for the 2006-07 season, and the third berth in the last four seasons. The Cyclones have won three division championships in that time (2007-08, 2008-09, 2012-13), and have a pair of Kelly Cup championships in 2008 and 2010. Cincinnati also made a third trip to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2014, falling in six games to the Alaska Aces.
Good in All Areas: The Cyclones boasted the League’s top offense, averaging 3.92 goals per game, and the top defense, having allowed a miniscule 2.44 goals per 60 minutes and outscoring teams 282-176. Starting and finishing games were a specialty for Cincinnati, as they have a League-leading 99 first period goals while only allowing 53, and have allowed 47 goals in the third period. Cincinnati is outscoring the opposition, 91-47, in the final 20 minutes of play, and are 37-1-1-2. when leading through two periods. They have given up more than three goals in regulation just nine times this season.
Welcome Matt Thomas: The Cyclones entered the 2018-19 season with a new head coach. In early August, Cincinnati hired Matt Thomas as the team’s new bench boss. He replaced Matt Macdonald who was named assistant coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins; American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. A native of Maple Ridge, BC, Thomas has extensive head coaching experience in the ECHL, spanning 11 seasons with the Atlantic Boardwalk Bullies, Fresno Falcons, and Stockton Thunder from 2002-2013. Thomas served two seasons as an assistant coach with Atlantic City, including helping the Boardwalk Bullies to a Kelly Cup Championship in 2003, before assuming the role of head coach and Director of Hockey Operations with the team prior to 2004-2005. He compiled a 42-22-8 mark in his lone season as Atlantic City’s bench boss, and served as the head coach for the 2005 ECHL All-Star Game. He then moved on to Fresno prior to the 2005-06 campaign, leading the Falcons to a 43-15-14 mark along with a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Over the next two seasons in Fresno, Thomas compiled a 76-41-17 record, with trips to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs on both occasions. He coached the Falcons during the first half of 2008-09, leading the team to an 18-10-2 mark before the team ceased operations midseason. Thomas was not out of work for long however, as he was named head coach of Stockton shortly after, and finished the year with a record of 22-16-3, and a trip to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Thomas went on to coach the Thunder for four more seasons, amassing a mark of 141-111-36, reaching the post season each year, including a trip to the 2013 Kelly Cup Finals. He enters the 2018-19 campaign as the ECHL’s sixth-winningest coach with a career record of 342-225-80, just one win back of fifth place all time. He is also the all-time leader in playoff games coached with 97, and ranks third with 49 playoff wins.
The 2018-19 season has come to an end and the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club are HERE! The 2018-19 ECHL Brabham Cup Champion Cincinnati Cyclones want YOU along for the ride, and playoff tickets are on sale NOW starting at $18 per seat for single game tickets and $15 per seat for groups of 20 or more! Call (513) 421-PUCK for tickets and more information, and stay on top of all the latest team updates and information on Facebook, Twitter (@CincyCyclones), and Instagram, along with our website, www.cycloneshockey.com!