Saturday, March 18, 2000

Cyclones 2, Grand Rapids 0

First victory over Griffins this year

Enquirer contributor

        The Cyclones donned their festive holiday jerseys for a St. Patrick's Day game against Grand Rapids Friday. It was the visiting Griffins who left Firstar Center green with envy.

        Before 8,542, Cincinnati earned its first win in the seventh meeting between the teams this season 2-0. Just 93 seconds into the third period, Greg Koehler broke the scoreless tie with a wrist shot from close range that beat Grand Rapids goalie Mike Fountain.

        Cincinnati's counterpart, Jean-Marc Pelletier, denied all 26 Grand Rapids shots to remain unbeaten in his last nine starts and earn his first shutout as a Cyclone. He also assisted on Ian MacNeil's empty net goal with only 39 seconds left.

        “My confidence has been high for about a month now,” Pelletier said.

        The Cyclones are 6-0-2 in their last eight. “I've probably seen about 1,200 hundred NHL games, and I'd say maybe a third were as good as (Friday's) game,” Cincinnati coach Ron Smith said. “That was an NHL type of game.”

        Coupled with Cleveland's loss Friday, the Cyclones' win puts them alone in third place in the Eastern Conference. Cincinnati is two points ahead of the Lumberjacks and six in front of fifth-place Milwaukee. The Cyclones trail Orlando, a 3-2 loser to Utah Friday, by seven points for second place. Koehler said he isn't worried about the idea of peaking too early.

        “We've been playing playoff hockey,” said Koehler, whose goal was his 12th of the season. “I don't see why we can't keep playing like this.”

        Grand Rapids ....... 0  0  0—0

        Cincinnati ....... 0  0  2—2

        First period: None. Second period: None. Third period: Cin, Koehler 12 (Dionne, Ustorf) 1:33; Cin, MacNeil 11 (Pelletier) 19:21 (eng).

        Shots on goal: GR, 8-7-11=26; Cin, 10-13-7=30. Goalies: GR, Fountain (29 saves); Cin, Pelletier (26). Power plays: GR, 0-1. Cin, 0-2. Att: 8,542.


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