By Michelle Dunne
Cincinnati Enquirer Contributor
ELMIRA, N.Y. – The Cincinnati Cyclones finished a four-game sweep of the Elmira Jackals on Friday with a 2-0 win in game four of the ECHL North Division finals at First Arena.
Though Elmira kept the game close, Cincinnati used stingy defense to thwart any hope for offense the Jackals might have had. The Cyclones consistently clogged the middle of the Elmira’s offensive zone when the Jackals had the puck down low, clearing away rebounds and protecting goalie Ryan Nie.
When Elmira had breakaways, Cincinnati often forced the play to the outside or Elmira would try to shoot from near the top of the offensive-zone circles, proving fruitless.
Cincinnati players also kept their sticks down in Elmira passing zones, redirecting pucks and creating an occasional steal.
The Cyclones’ Kyle Rank took advantage of such an opportunity when he deflecting the attempted pass of an Elmira defenseman in the right circle, recovered in the slot, then put it past Elmira goalie Michael Teslak for Cincinnati’s second score.
Elmira gave up the first goal with 24.7 seconds remaining in the first period, when Cincinnati’s Gerard Miller got the puck to Dustin Sproat, who had his back facing Teslak in the slot. Sproat spun around and put the puck past Teslak for what turned out to be the game-winner and series-clincher.
The Jackals’ effort seemed more consistent than in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Cyclones, but coupled with Cincinnati’s solid defensive effort, Elmira’s power play again came up empty, officially going 0-for-4. Elmira also was denied on a 6-on-4 chance in the last two minutes of the game after Elmira coach Steve Martinson pulled Teslak.
Cincinnati will face the winner of the Florida-South Carolina series. South Carolina leads 2-1 after a 4-3 win at home Friday.