CINCINNATI, OHIO –After the win on Wednesday in game three, the Cyclones faithful came to the arena prepared for a sweep. The Solar Bears were determined that was not going to happen and staved off elimination, pushing the series to Game Five.
This playoff series has taken a definitively defensive turn as both teams tightened up at the blue line.
Essentially this was a one to none contest that featured tight checking , neutral zone congestion, and heated offensive rushes. There were very few odd man situations and shorthanded attempts as both squads throttled up and down the ice not wanting to make that critical mistake.
The opening twenty minutes were relatively civil considering the nasty nature of game three. Both teams concentrated on solid fundamentals as once again the Cyclones doubled the Bears’ shots on goal. Both Rob Madore and Max Clermont battled save for save by making the difficult look routine. Neither squad giving up an offensive advantage to the other in spite of the Cyclones four to one edge in power play opportunities. As in game three the initial period ended in a scoreless tie.
The middle session began in a similar fashion as both teams battled for offensive zone presence.
Otherwise this was a mirror of the opening period. The rough stuff was simmering under the surface as it has all series long but never really erupted into an all out brawl. The period ended with the Bears catching up somewhat in the shots on goal department only trailing the home team by four.
One of the other photographers on media row was heard to say “boring” when referring to the game’s action to that point. I must agree that the initial two periods were as far as scoring but both clubs had adequate opportunity to put the puck in the twine.
Again the blueliners and netminders stole the show in not giving up that initial goal that is so important in these series games.
The atmosphere in the barn was tense as the final stanza began.
Several times the referee put away his whistle and let the boys play.
It wasn’t too long before this had a decided impact on the game as Orlando pressured Madore and Scott Tanski planted the puck in the net to give the Bears the game winner.
The remaining time on the clock featured the crashing of the Bears crease by the ‘Clones forwards which at one point resulted in Max Clermont banging his noggin on the left pipe. Clermont appeared dazed for a few minutes as he was attended to by the Orlando trainer.
Near the end Ben Simon pulled Madore in a vain attempt to even the score and force overtime resulting in an empty netter that kept the visitors hopes alive.
Thus the final score of two to nil in this defensive struggle.
The teams meet once again on Saturday night at US Bank Arena for Game Five in what portends to be an epic battle of wills for dominance in the series.
The Cyclones are hoping to close out the round with a win and the Bears hoping to stay alive to play another day.