CINCINNATI – Before a record crowd of 13,483 fans at U.S. Bank Arena, the Cincinnati Cyclones clinched their second ECHL championship in three seasons Friday beating the Idaho Steelheads 2-1.
“We didn’t win the ultimate prize, but we have no reason to hang our heads,” Steelheads head coach Derek Laxdal said. “The players and fans did an incredible job representing the city of Boise and the Idaho Steelheads organization.”
The Cyclones used a 22-save performance from Robert Mayer to win the best-of-seven series four games to one. Cincinnati scored the lone goal of the first period when Dustin Sproat slipped his 11th goal of the postseason past Rejean Beauchemin at 8:44. Brett Motherwell and Ian McKenzie had the assists.
McKenzie grabbed a loose puck in the Cincinnati end and fed it ahead on the right-wing side to Motherwell who carried it into the Idaho end. Eluding a defender, Motherwell went to the right post and slipped the puck cross ice as Beauchemin committed to his shot. Sproat grabbed the puck on the left-wing side and slipped it into the vacant net for the goal that tied him for the league lead.
The teams exchanged goals in the second period. Idaho tied the game at 5:51 when Matt McKnight netted his fifth goal from Brandan Kushniruk and Cody Lampl. Cincinnati would regain the lead at 10:23 when Jason Jozsa got to a puck at the right point. Jozsa’s shot on goal was tipped in front by Brett Robinson and the rookie’s ninth goal of the playoffs gave the club a 2-1 lead.
Despite Idaho outshooting Cincinnati in the third period, Mayer turned aside all seven Steelhead shots to earn the win. Mayer collected the win, his sixth of the playoffs with a 22-save effort. In the loss, Beauchemin turned away 14 shots. Idaho was 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Cyclones were 0-for-2 with the man-advantage.
Kelly Cup Notebook
Rookies Mayer, Smith Share Most Valuable Player Award
Cincinnati goaltenders Robert Mayer and Jeremy Smith were named co-Most Valuable Players of the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Mayer appeared in nine games with a 6-1 record, three shutouts, a 1.54 goals-against average (GAA) and a save percentage of .938. He played all five games of the Finals going 4-1 with one shutout, a 1.68 GAA and a save percentage of .933. Smith appeared in 17 playoff games, posting a record of 9-8 with one shutout, a 2.67 GAA and a save percentage of .907.
This is the fourth straight year that a goaltender has won the Kelly Cup Most Valuable Player Award as Smith and Mayer join Idaho’s Steve Silverthorn (2007), Cincinnati’s Cedrick Desjardins (2008) and South Carolina’s James Reimer (2009). It is the second time that teammates have shared the award, joining Greenville’s Simon Gamache and Tyrone Garner in 2002.
Cyclones Play Most Games In ECHL Postseason History
Cincinnati played 24 games during the 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs, the most in ECHL postseason history. Each of the Cyclones first three series went the maximum number of games. Cincinnati defeated South Carolina three games to two in the American Conference Quarterfinals, and Charlotte four games to three in the American Conference Semifinals, winning each series on the road.
The Cyclones made ECHL history in the American Conference Finals becoming the first team in the 22-year history of the league to come back and win a best-of-seven series after trailing three games to none as Cincinnati defeated Reading 4-3. Cincinnati is just the fifth team to play two Game 7s in one season in ECHL history, and the third team to win two Game 7s in the same postseason.
The previous record for most games played during a single postseason was 23, set by South Carolina in 2009. Cincinnati in 2008, Idaho and Dayton in 2007 and Alaska in 2006 all played 22 games in the playoffs.