Cincinnati Defeats Defending Italian Champion, Achieves Split In Games Against Top European Teams
PRINCETON, N.J. – The Cincinnati Cyclones hit the ice earlier than the remainder of the East Coast Hockey League this preseason with a trip to Austria for the inaugural Austrian Cup, a round-robin event featuring the Cyclones and three members of the Austrian Elite League.
The Cyclones opened play on September 26 with a one-goal loss to the Vienna Capitals. The Capitals lineup featured Dan Kesa, who played 139 games in the National Hockey League with Vancouver, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, and Jon Coleman, who was selected in the second round (48th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Sean Berens, who scored 21 points (12g-9a) in 18 games with Baton Rouge of the ECHL in 2000-01, was also on the Capitals roster. Aaron Brand scored a pair of goals for Cincinnati who received a strong performance from goaltender Greg Hewitt.
In its second game, Cincinnati lost 3-1 to defending Austrian League Champion VSV Heraklith based in Villach. Villach’s roster featured Rod Hinks, who scored 30 goals and 76 points for Johnstown in the ECHL in 1994-95.
The Cyclones closed out their visit to Austria with a 4-2 win on September 29 against HC Troler Wasserkraft based in Innsbruck. Rookie Evan Cheverie, defenseman Tom Scantlebury, Mike Henderson and Brand all scored for Cincinnati, who had three goals in the second period to break open the game. Fukufuji Yutaka, who was a member of the Japanese National Team, picked up the win in goal for the Cyclones.
Cincinnati visited Munich, Germany for the Oktoberfest celebration en route to Milan, Italy where it defeated Italian Super League Champion Milan 5-4 on October 1. In net for Milan was Jason Muzzatti, who was selected in the first round (21st overall) by the Calgary Flames in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft and later played parts of five seasons in the NHL with Calgary, Hartford, New York Rangers, and the San Jose Sharks.
“This impressive showing against top European competition speaks very well for the caliber of play in the East Coast Hockey League,” said Brian McKenna, President/CEO of the East Coast Hockey League. “By continuing to attract good young players, the level of play in the ECHL has continued to improve each and every year. We are proud of the way that the Cyclones have represented our league.”
“It was a wonderful cultural and hockey experience for our team as well as a great way of building team unity,” said Malcolm Cameron, Head Coach of the Cyclones. “The European teams had more time to prepare, but even with limited practice time our team played extremely well and we feel that we showed that the East Coast Hockey League is second to none.”
“I have very fond memories of Austria, having played in Vienna in the 1977 World Championship and having brought the Tampa Bay Lightning to Innsbruck a few years ago,” said NHL Hall of Fame member and part-owner of the Cyclones Phil Esposito. “This was a tremendous experience for the Cyclones to compete so well against this type of competition.”