Boka, Cyclones Rally to Down Heartlanders, 5-3
CINCINNATI, OH – The Iowa Heartlanders twice held one-goal leads on their first trip to Cincinnati, but the Cyclones battled back each time, including scoring the final three goals of the game on their way to a 5-3 victory. Iowa was able to muster just 13 shots on Cyclones’ goaltender Mat Robson, and every goal scored in the game was the player’s first of the season.
The Heartlanders got off to a fast start, taking the lead 2:36 into the period on their first shot of the game. Rookie Kyle Thacker took a feed from Zach Remers near the left faceoff circle and beat Robson to the glove side for his first ECHL goal.
The one goal lead held through the next 12 minutes but Cincinnati tied the score at 14:33 on a power-play goal by Dominic Franco, who was making his Cyclones debut on Thursday.
The Cyclones had outshot Iowa 10-4 in the first and clearly had the better of the play, yet the score was tied heading to the first intermission. That changed just 58 seconds into the second period. Nick Boka had the puck, passing it to Louie Caporusso along the wall. He made a great feed to Johnny Coughlin, who blasted a one-timer by Heartlanders goaltender Trevin Kozlowski to make it 2-1 Cincinnati.
The Cyclones had their first lead of the game, but Iowa responded with two goals in the span of 70 seconds to retake the lead. The first came at 5:20 when Joe Widmar intercepted a pass, heading the opposite direction on a breakaway. He closed in on Robson, sneaking the puck through the legs of the Cincinnati goaltender to tie the score at two.
At 6:30, the Heartlanders were back on top. With Iowa on the power-play, Jake Linhart fired a shot that was knocked down in front, but right to Jonathan Desbiens, who put the rebound in for his first professional goal.
Iowa looked like they were headed to the second intermission leading by a goal, but Boka tied the score with 79 seconds left in the frame. Boka took a pass in the high slot from Caporusso, then fired a wrist shot that beat Kozlowski to the glove side to tie the score at three.
The third period was all Cincinnati, as they outshot Iowa, 19-2. That helped them to produce two goals in the period. The first was an unfortunate one for Iowa as Matt McLeod fired a shot that hit off a Heartlanders defenseman and in to put the Cyclones on top for good. With 1:37 left in the game, Gianiuca Esteves put the game away. Matthew Cairns fired a shot that was deflected by Esteves to make it 5-3. That would be the final.
It was a tough night for Kozlowski in his Heartlanders debut as the goaltender allowed five goals on 37 shots. Iowa had six players who had a goal or an assist. Boka had a goal and an assist for the Cyclones and Caporusso had two assists.
The Iowa Heartlanders travel to Indianapolis to take on the Indy Fuel on Friday evening. The puck drops at 6:00 Iowa time.
By Robert Pannier