Nick Brunker's Blog
2012-13 Season In Review
May 20, 2013 | View Comments
A Season to Remember: The 2012-13 campaign was a memorable one for the Cincinnati Cyclones, as they captured the North Division Championship, finished second in the Eastern Conference, and played to within seven wins of a Kelly Cup. And in a season where the NHL Lockout put everyone’s roster in a state of flux, Cincinnati was one of the most consistent teams in the ECHL from the very outset. The year began in impressive fashion, as the Clones went unbeaten in regulation for the first nine games; their first regulation loss didn’t come until November 10. As the season continued, Jarrod Skalde’s club remained one of the top teams in the North Division, never falling below second place. In fact, after December 21 they stayed in the top spot, holding the slot for a total of 142 days. As the NHL Lockout finally came to an end, the roster shuffle for many ECHL teams (including Cincinnati) ramped up. After all was said and done, a total of 61 players spent time on the Cyclones’ roster; by March 31, there were 42 American Hockey League call-ups resulting in nearly 400 games played at the Triple-A level. Meanwhile, Cincinnati continued to soar. They posted points in 17 of 19 games from February 1 through March 15 - including a season-high 11 game point streak from February 22 through March 15. And on March 17, after Toledo dropped a game in Wheeling, the Cyclones officially became North Division Champions - the earliest they have ever clinched since returning to ECHL play in 2006. In addition, thanks to the second-half surge, the Clones found themselves atop the Eastern Conference in hopes of taking the number one seed into the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Reading Royals earned points in nine of their final ten games to pass by the Cyclones and secured the top spot heading into the postseason. Cincinnati enjoyed the third-most wins and second-most points for the club since returning to the ECHL. And on April 2, Head Coach Jarrod Skalde was awarded the John Brophy Trophy as the league’s Coach of the Year.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Toledo: The Cyclones drew the seventh-seeded Toledo Walleye in the first round. Setting the tone for the series, Game 1 went to double-overtime where Cincinnati prevailed thanks to a Mike Embach goal. The Clones would jump out to a 3-0 series lead, however, Toledo answered back with two-straight wins - forcing Game 6 back to Huntington Center. Trailing with five seconds left in regulation, Garrett Wilson banked in the game-tying goal from behind the net to force OT; and just a few minutes into the extra session, Mathieu Aubin ended the series with the game-winner.
Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Gwinnett: After an exciting first round, Cincy advanced to face the South Division Champion Gladiators, but due to a scheduling conflict began the series in Georgia despite being the higher seed. The teams split the first two games and came back to Cincinnati for the remainder of the series. Michael Houser earned his first pro shutout in Game 3, making 23 saves to earn the win and a 2-1 series edge. The Glads would answer back to tie the series in Game 4, but that would be the last of their success as Cincinnati took back-to-back wins in Games 5 and 6 - advancing into the Conference Finals.
Eastern Conference Finals vs. Reading: The Royals denied an upset by knocking off the Florida Everblades in a decisive seventh game, setting up another playoff meeting with the Cyclones. Despite being heavily outplayed in the first two games at Sovereign Center, Reading escaped with back-to-back overtime wins...Game 1 went into double-OT. As the series shifted back to Cincinnati, the Cyclones claimed an extra- session win of their own as Mike Embach again collected the game-winner. Unfortunately, though, the Royals would capture two more victories in Games 4 and 5 at U.S. Bank Arena to earn a trip to the Kelly Cup Finals. The Cyclones outshot the Royals 186-141 in the six game series.
My 2012-13 Award Winners:
MVP: Michael Houser - His play down the stretch was a major reason for Cincinnati's position in the Eastern Conference. And in the playoffs, he was an absolute workhorse. In just one season, he put himself toward the top of the many club playoff records for goaltending. Runners-Up: Mathieu Aubin, David Pacan
Rookie of the Year: David Pacan - This award could have also gone to a couple of different players, but to me it came down to one thing. Consistency. "PacMan" finished among the ECHL's top rookies in points and assists - collecting 52 points in 57 games. Every game, you could count on him to get a big goal at a big time. From the very outset, he was an offensive threat and never really wavered from that. I'd be surprised if we saw him in the ECHL very much next year (sorry, fans). He proved he's worthy of a shot in the AHL. Runners-Up: Michael Houser, Trevor Lewis, Josh Shalla
Defenseman of the Year: David MacDonald - This guy flat out earned it. While Brian O'Hanley and Chris Reed were certainly in the conversation, MacDonald was a mainstay for the Clones and quickly became a leader on the hockey team. He was among the most stable rear guards in the league and finished second on the Cyclones defensive scoring. Most importantly, he was dependable. During critical times of games, he was the guy you wanted out there. Runners-Up: Chris Reed, Brian O'Hanley
In case you missed it...here are the video conversations we had as players filed out last week!