As the Cincinnati Cyclones prepare for Game 1 of the Kelly Cup finals on Friday night, some faces that have become very familiar to Rampage fans this season will be at the forefront of Cincy’s push to take back the cup. Six players on the Cyclones roster spent time with San Antonio this season, particularly Wade Megan and Logan Shaw, who played 43 and 46 games, respectively, with the Silver and Black.
Jonathan Hazen, who played 10 games with the Rampage, has been clutch in Cincinnati’s playoff run. Of his six playoff goals, three have been overtime game-winners. Goalie Rob Madore, defenseman Josh McFadden and forward Trevor Lewis, who all appeared in the Alamo City throughout the 2013-14 season, have also been key components of the Cyclones’ quest for its third Kelly Cup in franchise history.
The No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Cyclones have seen their fair share of adversity throughout their three playoff series, each of which have gone six games. Seven of Cincinnati’s 18 playoff games have been decided in overtime and 11 games have been won or lost by a single goal.
“The playoffs are tough – it’s a grind,” said Shaw, who has three goals and an assist in the playoffs and put up eight points for the Rampage this season. “We’ve played three tough teams, but I think we’re ready. We’ve faced just about everything a team can face so far, which is definitely a strong point for us. We’ll be ready for the finals.”
Megan, Lewis and Shaw were all reassigned to Cincinnati on April 14, just in time to help the Cyclones with their Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup against the Orlando Solar Bears.
“We did the best we could to help and Trevor, Wade and I are playing together, so things are clicking, and hopefully we can continue that onto the next round,” said Shaw. “It’s helpful to have been in San Antonio together – we have that chemistry and we know each other and it makes it a lot more comfortable when you know the players you’re playing with.”
Megan’s nine goals through the Cyclones’ first three playoff series rank second on the team, and Hazen’s 14 points rank third. McFadden has been a solid presence on the back line while adding nine assists, and Madore has posted a 2.21 goals against average and a monster .928 save percentage in the playoffs.
Cincinnati will take on the Western Conference Champion, the Alaska Aces, in the Kelly Cup Finals, marking the first time the teams have met in the postseason. Alaska last captured the Kelly Cup in 2011 and the Cyclones won it in 2010.
Playing in Alaska presents a new set of tough circumstances for a Cyclones team that has already faced its fair share of challenges. In addition to a four-hour time difference – the 7:15 puck drop will essentially at 11:15 p.m. for the Cincinnati players – they will also be playing on Olympic-sized ice, as Alaska is the only team in the ECHL that plays on the wider surface.
“It doesn’t matter what league you’re in – the finals is always going to be the toughest series you’re going to play in,” said Shaw. “We just have to worry about ourselves and playing our best game. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous or excited to play.”
KELLY CUP FINALS - ALASKA VS. CINCINNATI
Game 1 at Alaska - Fri. May 30, 10:15 p.m. CT (L, 5-3)
Game 2 at Alaska - Sat. May 31, 10:15 p.m. CT (W, 2-1)
Game 3 at Alaska - Mon. June 2, 10:15 p.m. CT
Game 4 at Cincinnati - Fri. June 6, 6:35 p.m. CT
Game 5 at Cincinnati - Sat. June 7, 6:35 p.m. CT*
Game 6 at Cincinnati - Mon. June 9, 6:35 p.m. CT*
Game 7 at Alaska - Wed. June 11, 10:15 p.m. CT*
(* if necessary)