ELMIRA, N.Y. - The Elmira Jackals faced the ECHL's top offense on Friday night at First Arena and could not put the brakes on the Cincinnati Cyclones. A four-goal first period by the visitors handed Elmira a 4-1 loss and dropped the Jackals to 22-29-8 on the season.
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Click here for tonight's postgame comments.
Coming into tonight's action the Elmira Jackals had scored the first goal in each of their last eight games. Cincinnati bucked that trend on its first shot of the game then delivered three more in the first 20 minutes to jump out to an insurmountable lead. Dan Eves began the barrage by stealing a puck away from the Jackals' defense deep in the attacking zone. A quick wrist shot delivered the puck past Neil Conway 3:12 into the contest. Anthony Luciani, Cincinnati's leading goal scorer, added his 25th on the power play one minute and eight seconds later to double Cincinnati's lead. Exactly five minutes after Eves broke the ice Josh Birkholz sent a lob shot from the blueline that eluded Conway and found the back of the net for a three-goal advantage. Steven Anthony, who played his first game with the Cyclones after a National Hockey League deadline deal that sent him from the Vancouver prospect pool to Florida's, deflected a point shot from Devon Krogh at 16:33 to cap Cincinnati's first-period surge. The Cyclones outshot the Jackals 15-7 in the frame.
After taking time to regroup at the first intermission the Jackals came out and executed their game plan more precisely in the second. The Cyclones did manage 17 shots in the frame but a majority came from on the perimeter and Conway was there to smother every one. Late in the frame the Jackals used a turnover at their blueline to create a four-on-two rush that led to their goal. Jesper Strale, who was playing his first pro game out of Elmira College, blocked a shot at the point and led the odd-man rush into the attack zone. He left a drop pass in the high slot for Jackals captain Jean Bourbeau to whistle past Cincinnati goalie Rob Madore for his 11th goal of the year.
Spurred on by the momentum of Bourbeau's goal the Jackals put together a strong third period. Their first shift of the frame produced over a minute of sustained attack time in the Cyclones' zone and two good scoring chances. That was part of a 13-shot barrage the Jackals compiled against Madore, but as the saves mounted against them the Jackals saw their chances at a comeback go by the wayside.
Conway shouldered his fourth regulation loss of the season while stopping 37 of 41 shots. The Jackals ended the night 0-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Mark your calendars! The Jackals return to home ice on Monday, March 17 to take on the Gwinnett Gladiators. Don't forget that groups of 10 or more who book in advance receive discounts off the box office price and preferred seating based on availability. Call 607-734-7825 to get your group outing booked.