One season ago, the Cincinnati Cyclones motored into the 2014 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals as a five seed in the Eastern Conference. They finished on the wrong side of a six-game series against the Alaska Aces with goaltender Rob Madore claiming the MVP of the playoffs and, by doing so, became the first player from the losing team of the Kelly Cup Finals to win the award in the ECHL’s 26-year history.
The 2014-15 season will not have such a story to tell. The Cyclones regular season ended last night and ended in the team’s third consecutive defeat. There will be no playoff hockey for Cincinnati this season. The team went 31-30-2-9 (73 points) on the season and missed out to the fourth placed Wheeling Nailers in the North Division for a playoff spot.
Cincinnati lost its last three games of the season and, while that took place, the Nailers won three-straight games to take a lead of a single point. The Cyclones needed a win last night with a Nailers loss today to get in. It didn’t happen. As such, the Cyclones 2014-15 campaign will end far short of the year prior.
Madore’s season didn’t start as stellar as his playoff run was but he ended the year on a good note when he started getting in games on a more frequent basis. He played in 46 games, had a record of 16-19-2-8, 2.64 goals against average, 0.905 save percentage, and 4 shutouts.
Josh Shalla‘s season probably would have been more successful had he not had injury woes here and there, especially late in the season. Shalla produced 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 59 games with a plus/minus rating of -10 and 24 penalty minutes. If you chose not to factor in Jack Combs and Jack Downing, both of whom joined Cincinnati in mid-March from other teams, Shalla still led the Cyclones in scoring this season despite an injury bug.
The other mainstay for the Cyclones within or system was defenseman Jaynen Rissling. The Edmonton native did get a brief look with the Milwaukee Admirals this season in which he played 5 games in February but the bulk of his time was spent in the ECHL this season. He also had some injury issues and ended up only logging 37 games while posting 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) with a plus/minus of -4 and 76 penalty minutes.
It’s perhaps been awhile since you’ve heard the name Garrett Noonan and he is the sort of player that some might have expected more from in his first pro season. Truthfully, I think the decision to have him play in Cincinnati rather than be healthy scratched and play infrequently in Milwaukee is the best choice for anyone in developmental leagues. You need to play to learn, right? Noonan spent the better majority of this season as an Admiral. He has played 38 games in the AHL while scoring 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists), plus/minus of +5, and 15 penalty minutes. The ECHL total for Noonan went 23 games, 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists), plus/minus -2, and 22 penalty minutes.
Cincinnati also played host to many other Admirals this season. Zach Budish, Frédérick Gaudreau, Joe Pendenza, Mikko Vainonen, Patrick Cehlin, and Jonathan Diaby all spent time in the ECHL this season before coming back to the Admirals (or being loaned to European outfits – Vainonen and Cehlin).
For the Cincinnati readership, what were some of the biggest factors this season that contributed to the team missing out on this year’s playoffs? Of the talents that have breezed through this season who have been some of the more exciting ones that could crack the AHL next season?