Following last night’s 6-2 win in Rockford the Milwaukee Admirals are now officially at the Christmas break with a record of 19-9-1-0 (39 points). Their 0.672 points percentage has them in second place of the Central Division and third in the Western Conference. That’s really impressive when you consider the state of the Admirals roster is stretched to the point where the third line is basically another PTO signing away from having the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs top line.
For all that the Nashville Predators have been through injury-wise, and all that the Admirals have been through roster move and injury-wise in their own right, you almost lose sight of what sort of strain that puts on our ECHL affiliate.
I’ve yet to take a proper look into just how the Cincinnati Cyclones’ 2015-16 season has been going but am fortunate enough to have someone that can help myself and all of us get to know what’s what in Cincinnati. Dakota Johnson of Sin Bin Cyclones was able to have a chat with Admirals Roundtable to shed light on how the Cyclones have been doing as well as some other random questions that popped into the noggin. Here’s our conversation.
~Q&A Sin Bin Cyclones~
Admirals Roundtable: The Cincinnati Cyclones have started this season off rather well. What are your likes and dislikes of this season’s team? And has anything or anyone surprised you with the Cyclones?
Sin Bin Cyclones: This year’s Cyclones are an all around, strong hockey club. A lot of fire power up front with the likes of Jack Downing, Zach Budish, and Andrew Yogan. Strong goaltending as Brad Thiessen has been our rock in goal. Thiessen is currently up in Lake Erie so it’s nice to have guys like Neil Conway and Brandon Whitney who have stepped big time between the pipes in his absence.
Their biggest problem so far has been consistency. Past few weeks we have been suffering “win one, lose one” syndrome. If they can find that level of consistency, the Cyclones will be a very tough team to beat.
Biggest surprise for me would be rookies Joe Wilson and Steve Weinstein. Wilson has the highest +/- rating on the team with a +13. Weinstein leads all defensemen in scoring with 17 points. The unexpected young guns have really come in and have made an instant impact on this team.
AR: We’ve had the chance to see him briefly this season but never once in game-action. What are your thoughts on Brandon Whitney?
SBC: Whitney has been another surprise to me. We saw him briefly last season when he was with the Wheeling Nailers. Coming in, I’ll admit, I was a tad concerned, but he has really impressed me. When he’s given the chance, he comes up huge, and has bailed us out in plenty of games.
AR: Last season Frédérick Gaudreau flipped between Milwaukee and Cincinnati are scored a combined 18 points (9 goals, 9 goals) in 57 games. This season he has already surpassed that total, 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) in 28 games, and has done it all here in Milwaukee to lead the Admirals in scoring at the Christmas break. Are you surprised by that at all or did you see that level of quality from him in the ECHL last season?
SBC: I’m not surprised in the slightest. In the short time we had him in Cincinnati last season, I could tell just by his speed and offensive awareness, he wasn’t going to be back with us this season. Freddy is a guy, in all honesty, I don’t think is too far off from the NHL. He certainly doesn’t belong in the ECHL, that is for sure.
AR: Additionally, Joe Pendenza is another similar story to Gaudreau. He’s been between both organizations the last two seasons a fair bit. Do you think if he was in any other organization he’d be an every day AHL player?
SBC: Pendenza is going to produce no matter where he goes, so I really try not to imagine him with any other organization. But if I had to, I think he definitely deserves a legitimate shot at being a full time AHL forward. It’s definitely hard to imagine any AHL team not wanting to take full advantage and utilizing his talents.
AR: It’s been a slight bummer seeing so many banged up bodies for the Cyclones. Eric Robinson, Jaynen Rissling, and Jonathan Diaby have all struggled in that regard. What have you made of their season to date and how are all doing health-wise at the moment?
SBC: Rissling and Diaby have been far from point scoring machines. But they play smart hockey. They’ve both made those simple, small plays and by doing the little things right, you can really have a positive effect without putting up any points. Rissling and Diaby both suffered upper body injuries. Both are short term and they could come back any day now.
Robinson was unbelievable right from the get go. He was averaging over a point per game before his injury and was well on his way to having a very successful rookie season. Unfortunately, he tore something in his leg, is currently on crutches, and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
AR: One guy that has maintained fitness this season is Garrett Noonan. He looks to be putting together a solid season right now. How has he been looking on defense?
SBC: You can’t ask for a more reliable person on the back-end than Garrett Noonan. He has consistently been one of our best defensemen. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting him to get sent to Cincinnati this season at all, but the way he’s been playing, and for obvious selfish reasons, I won’t complain.
AR: It was a sad ol’ time last season when both the Admirals and Cyclones missed the playoffs. It’s early, I know, but I feel that the Admirals are setting themselves up for a playoff return. Can you say the same for the Cyclones?
SBC: I’ll start off by saying I’m a very superstitious person, and am going to hate myself for saying this but… I can definitely say I think the Cyclones are on the right path. Of course, as I alluded to earlier, if they can fix their issue with consistency and weather that storm, there is no doubt in my mind this Cincinnati team will find themselves in a playoff spot come April.
Thank you very much to Dakota Johnson of Sin Bin Cyclones for taking the time to chat ECHL hockey with us here on Roundtable. I suggest following along to Sin Bin Cyclones on Twitter to keep up to date with everything going in with the Cincinnati Cyclones this season. My hope is, like the Admirals, the Cyclones return to playoff hockey a season removed from disappointment. All we both need now is for players to get healthy and that lovely roster depth at the start of the year to trickle back down… or, as I would call it, a late Christmas gift/miracle.
Are you a Cincinnati reader? If so, what have your general impressions of this year’s team been? How have the likes of Noonan and Diaby looked on defense? And how has Rissling’s move from defenseman to winger gone so far?