CINCINNATI, Ohio – Cyclones rookie Josh Shalla picked up his second goal and third point on the day when he fired home the game-winner at 16:08 of the third period as the Cincinnati Cyclones (8-1-2-0) picked up a 3-2 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays (6-9-0-1) in front of 3,487 at U.S. Bank Arena on Tuesday morning. The victory extends the Cyclones home winning streak to five games.
For the fifth straight game, the Cyclones were the first team to light the lamp. Just 5:08 into the first period, Shalla cut out of the corner and snuck the puck between the legs of South Carolina goaltender Shawn Hunwick for a 1-0 lead. The Stingrays would battle back to tie the score at the 13:28 mark as rookie defenseman Tommy Cross found the net with a low wrist shot from the left side, giving him a rookie-leading 15 points. And despite the Cyclones outshooting the Stingrays 10-3 in the opening frame, the game was even at one through 20 minutes.
The teams remained knotted at one for most of the second frame until Shalla skated his way behind the net and found a waiting Francois Bouchard in front of the Stingray goal at 17:23. Bouchard slammed the pass home past Ryan Zapolski (L, 3-2-0-0, 19 saves), who replaced Hunwick just 11:00 into the game. With the assist, Shalla recorded his first multi-point game of his young pro career. The Cyclones, who rank fourth in the ECHL in team defense, preserved the lead for the remainder of the period and went into the locker room with a 2-1 cushion.
South Carolina forward Chris Langkow evened the game up at 2-2 only 5:03 into the third when he was able to tuck a wrap-around shot just past the left leg of Zoltan Hetenyi (W, 1-1-0-0, 16 saves). Cincinnati, who has been keen at scoring late in games, came up with the break-even goal again as time wound down. After beating a Stingrays defenseman, Shalla decked by Zapolski and buried his second goal of the day at 16:08, lifting Cincinnati to a 3-2 lead. And thanks to some timely saves in the final minute by Hetenyi, the Cyclones went on to win by the same score.
It was the first career three-point game and multi-goal effort for Shalla as well as Hetenyi’s first ECHL win.
The Cyclones Radio Network Stars of the Game are as follows:
First Star: Josh Shalla (Game-winning goal, 2 goals, 1 assist for Cincinnati)
Second Star: Francois Bouchard (1 goal for Cincinnati)
Third Star: Zoltan Hetenyi (16 saves, winning goaltender for Cincinnati)
The Cyclones will return to the ice at U.S. Bank Arena this THURSDAY when they welcome in the Evansville Icemen for the first time this season.