Second Period Surge Helps Cyclones Down Heartlanders, 4-2
CORALVILLE, IA – The Cincinnati Cyclones scored three goals in the second period on Saturday to help lead them to a 4-2 victory over the Iowa Heartlanders. Four different players scored goals for Cincinnati and Max Balinson and Dominic Franco each had a pair of assists. Michael Houser earned the victory, stopping 30 of 32 shots. A night after shutting out the Cyclones, Heartlanders netminder Corbin Kaczperski stopped 36 shots.
Iowa got off to a great start as Jake Smith scored 8:25 into the contest to give his team the lead. Alex Esposito found Smith in the neutral zone, feeding him the puck to send him in on a breakaway. Smith faked like he was going to blast a slapshot, then pulled the puck in, tucking it between the legs of Houser for his 22nd goal of the year.
The Cyclones were dominating much of the first period, outshooting Iowa 16-8. The team was swirling around the Heartlanders zone and eventually scored on the power-play at 11:24 to tie the score at one. Zack Andrusiak passed the puck to Wyatt Edge at the point, who lifted a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and past Kaczperski for his seventh goal of the year.
The score remained tied through the end of the first period, but the first frame goal seemed to give the Cyclones confidence they could beat the Heartlanders netminder. They continued to fire shots on Kaczperski in the second and came away with three tallies to come out of the second period with a two-goal lead.
Jesse Schultz gave Cincinnati the lead at 3:42. Balinson gained control of the puck inside the Heartlanders zone, then moved it to Schultz at the left faceoff circle. He blasted a one-timer by Kaczperski for his 21st goal of the year.
Lincoln Griffin made the lead two a little less than four minutes later. Franco passed the puck to Griffin in the slot, who shoveled the puck past the Iowa netminder to make it 3-1. It was the 21st goal of the season for Griffin.
The Hearltanders were losing but they continued to fight, pulling within a goal when Fedor Gordeev netted his fourth goal of the season just after the 16-minute mark. It was a great effort by Gordeev, who moved around two Cincinnati players before approaching Houser. The puck was bouncing a little, but Gordeev chipped it up and over the shoulder of Houser to make it 3-2.
The goal got the fans right back into the contest, but the Cyclones silenced the crowd when Luc Brown scored almost exactly one minute later. Franco passed the puck to Brown, who put a wrist shot past Kaczperski to make it 4-2.
The Heartlanders were outshot through the first two periods, 30-19, but put the pressure on in the third, outshooting the Cyclones, 13-10. Iowa had three great scoring chances, but Houser was spectacular, preserving the two-goal advantage.
The victory moves the Cyclones to 33-273, fourth place in the Central Division with a .548 winning percentage, .001 behind Wheeling for third. The Heartlanders drop to 27-27-8.
Iowa heads to the road to begin a four-game trip starting on Wednesday against the Kalamazoo Wings. The puck drops at 6:00.
By Robert Pannier