|Cyclones forward Jonathan Hazen (Credit Tony Bailey)
With a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Greenville Road Warriors in Game 6 on Tuesday night, the Cincinnati Cyclones, Florida’s ECHL affiliate, earned their third trip to the Kelly Cup Finals since 2008. Cincinnati will begin a best-of-seven series against the Alaska Aces on Friday, May 30 in Anchorage.
The Cyclones roster includes eight players with Panthers ties, including prospect Jonathan Hazen (signed entry level contract in March 2011) who scored two goals on Tuesday night, including the overtime game-winner. It was Hazen’s second OT game-winner of the series and third of the post-season, giving him 14 points in 18 games.
"We were on (the) PK, and I just tried to pass it to (Byron) Froese, but it came back at me so I just stayed with it," Hazen told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I went two-on-one, shot it, and it went it. It was just unreal.”
"We have an unreal team, we just have to keep going. Four more wins—that's what it takes."
Other players on the Cyclones’ Eastern Conference championship team with ties to Florida include RW Joe Basaraba (Florida’s seventh choice/2010 NHL Draft), D Joshua McFadden (signed as free agent in July 2012) and F Logan Shaw (Florida’s fifth choice/2011 NHL Draft). McFadden has posted nine assists in 17 games, Shaw has recorded four points (3-1-4) in 18 games and Basaraba has suited up in two postseason contests.
In addition, G Rob Madore (12-3-3, 2.21 GAA) who recorded 28 saves in the series clinching game, giving him a postseason total of 543 (most in the ECHL), attended the Panthers training camp in September and appeared in one pre-season game with the Cats. Cincy F Josh Birkholz (3-4-7 in 18 games) and F Wade Megan (9-2-11 in 18 games) were both selected by Florida in the 2009 NHL Draft. F Trevor Lewis (3-2-5 in eight games) and D Mike Dalhuisen (0-3-3 in 13 games) have both spent time with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.
Follow the Panthers twitter for updates on the Cyclones’ quest for the Kelly Cup.