ESTERO, Florida – The Cincinnati Cyclones (41-19-5-3) scored early and often as they defeated the Florida Everblades (34-22-4-7) by a 6-2 final score in front of 5,083 at Germain Arena on Friday night. Coupled with a loss by Gwinnett, the Cyclones guaranteed themselves no worse than a second place finish in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Rookie J.T. Macdonald potted his first pro goal just 1:13 into the contest to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead. And thanks to a pair of solid penalty kills and 10 saves from Michael Houser (W, 34 saves, 15-7-1-1), the Cyclones took a one-goal edge into the first intermission.
Cincinnati extended its cushion to 2-0 at the 8:51 mark when Mike Embach sent a high wrist shot over the glove shoulder of Jesse Deckert (L, 14 saves, 4-1-0-1). The Everblades answered back with a goal of their own as Brett Henley wrested home his third goal of the season at 15:18. After weathering several more quality Florida scoring chances, the Cyclones struck again in the final minute; Matt Smyth found a loose puck in the right circle and fired a laser-accurate wrist shot over Deckert’s shoulder, making it 3-1 Cincinnati after 40 minutes.
An early third period power play allowed the Cyclones to bolster their cushion; Justin Vaive tucked home a rebound right in front of the net for his second goal in as many nights to lift his team to a 4-1 lead at 1:27. Then, at 6:58, Smyth delivered his second goal of the night by finishing off an odd man rush to make it 5-1. Florida’s Mathieu Roy temporarily stopped the bleeding for his team by potting a breakaway goal at 15:21. But a late rally would be denied by Cincinnati as Mathieu Aubin buried an empty net goal from his own zone to seal a 6-2 win.
The Cyclones Radio Network Stars of the Game are as follows:
First Star: Matt Smyth (2 goals for Cincinnati)
Second Star: Mattias Lindstrom (3 assists for Cincinnati)
Third Star: Justin Vaive (1 goal, 1 assist for Cincinnati)
Cincinnati will wrap up its brief stay in Estero with a Saturday night battle against the Everblades at 7:05pm. Fans can hear all the action of the game on the Cyclones Radio Network (FM 100 The FAN, America One, CyclonesHockey.com) beginning at 6:45pm.
The Cyclones will return to the ice at U.S. Bank Arena on Friday, March 29 when they host the Evansville IceMen at 7:30pm!