The Cyclones topped the Alaska Aces 2-1 in Anchorage Saturday night, locking in yet another road victory in the playoffs and ending a 4-game win streak for the Aces. The Cyclones are now 8-3 in away games this postseason.
Although sitting on the cusp of June, it still felt like hockey season in Alaska as a morning storm dumped snow on the mountains surrounding the Aces' home rink, Sullivan Arena.
The Cyclones, so sluggish in the first period in Game 1, kicked things off early and often in the first 20 minutes of Game 2. The team fired off 12 shots on goal, more than they would muster in the second and third combined. Cyclones goaltender Rob Madore blocked his first shot two and a half minutes into the game, easily snagging a lofty puck from the blue line like it was a ceremonial pitch. The slow pace wouldn't last, as the Aces launched an offensive hurricane eight minutes into the game, firing four shots back-to-back in an assault that left Madore sitting flat on the ice.
Cincinnati's Taylor Aronson was called for a penalty for throwing a knee into the Aces' Brendan Connolly, halting an Alaska breakaway at 10:14 into the first period. With the ice cleared, Connolly couldn't capitalize on his penalty shot and Madore notched another of his 35 saves of the game.
Alaska landed on the scoreboard first at 12:17 into the first period after a messy pile-up in the crease. Ross Ring-Jarvis connected with a rolling puck, notching his first goal of the postseason.
Cincinnati's Byron Froese soon evened the score, tearing across the center and landing a goal at 15:13 off an assist from Josh Shalla. Twenty-one seconds later, teammate Jonathan Hazen put the Cyclones up 2-1.
Game 2 lacked the firecracker energy of Friday night's back-and-forth debut duel as the Cyclones slowed the pace and ground through the back half of the match. The Aces took twice as many shots as Cincinnati through the final 40 minutes, and Madore stopped every one.
"He was phenomenal," Coach Ben Simon said of Madore's Game 2 performance. "He's been coming up big when we've needed him to. We have to figure out a way to take a bit of the pressure off of him, but Robbie always seems to be there and make that big save when we need it."
Madore leads the ECHL this postseason in wins (13), minutes played (1,258) and saves (616).
The Cyclones look to take control of the series on Monday night at 11:15 p.m. Cincinnati time.
With the series now tied one game apiece, the Cyclones are guaranteed at least two games on home ice at US Bank Arena when the series shifts to Cincinnati this Friday.
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