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Game 61 Preview: Cincinnati at Iowa

Thursday, March 24th
Game 61 Preview: Cincinnati at Iowa

Cyclones visit eastern Iowa for start of back-to-back

Coralville, Iowa – The Iowa Heartlanders (26-26-7-1, 60 pts.) are home for Elementary School Night presented by MidWestOne Bank against the Cincinnati Cyclones (32-26-3-0, 67 pts.) Friday at 7:00 p.m. The Heartlanders are looking for their first win of the season against Cincinnati to kick off an important back-to-back set; Iowa is four points back of Wheeling for the fourth and final Central Division playoff spot with 12 games remaining. Cincinnati is in third place and holds a three-point cushion on Wheeling.Proceeds from tickets to Friday’s game benefit the Iowa City Community School District Foundation. Iowa hosts Cincinnati again Saturday at 7:00 p.m. for First Responders Night, presented by Steindler Orthopedic Clinic.Tavern Blue Fore Packs are available for all home games this season, which includes four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, VIP Parking and discounts from Tavern Blue restaurant. Tickets for the game are also available by calling 319-569-GOAL.Broadcast Coverage: Listen at Iowaheartlanders.com/listenlive or mixlr.com/goheartlanders. Watch on FloHockey.tv.NHL Affiliates: Iowa Heartlanders (Minnesota Wild/Iowa Wild) | Cincinnati Cyclones (Buffalo Sabres/Rochester Americans)Last Time Out Yuki Miura netted his second career multi-goal game and Corbin Kaczperski blocked 39 saves, but Iowa couldn’t catch up to the Komets and dropped, 4-2, Wednesday at Xtream Arena. The Komets took 33 of the game’s first 41 shots and led 2-0 before Miura’s first goal, a breakaway late in the second. Fort Wayne forward Will Graber scored 1:02 later on the man up to give the Komets a 3-1 lead. Miura scored again early in the third to make it a one-goal game, 3-2. Fort Wayne potted insurance halfway through the final frame to finish the scoring.Two young faces added to roster The Landers announced Thursday the club signed forward Alex Esposito and defenseman Ryan Wheeler to ECHL contracts. Each just completed their senior seasons in the NCAA’s Hockey East conference (Esposito – Providence // Wheeler – UConn). Esposito, a West Haven, CT native, scored one goal and four points for Providence this season in his fifth NCAA campaign. He spent his first four seasons at the University of Vermont (23 NCAA goals at Vermont). Wheeler finished his senior campaign at UConn with two goals and four points in 36 games.Cincinnati Season Series The Heartlanders and Cyclones have four games remaining in their seven-game series. Cincinnati has won all three games at home, but the clubs have only faced off once since early November (Feb. 1, 6-3 CIN win). Iowa’s roster is vastly different since the early-November meetings; compared to the Nov. 6 lineup, Iowa has only six players remaining that have skated for Iowa in the last month.Cincinnati has scored at least five goals in each of the first three games; Jesse Schultz is best of all the Clones with three goals and seven points. Mat Robson is 2-0-0-0 against Iowa with a 2.00 goals against average and .867 save percentage. Sean Bonar allowed three goals in the Feb. 1 matchup (1-0-0-0 record).Kris Bennett and Jake Smith are the only active Heartlanders with goals in the season series. Bennett, Ryan Kuffner, Jeff Solow and Zach White top Iowa with two points each.Age and experience comparison Entering this week, Iowa remains one of the league’s youngest rosters with an average age of 25.2 (20th of 27). Cincinnati boasts the league’s fourth-oldest roster (26.7 years old). There’s also a vast difference of prior professional experience; Cincinnati has more than double the number of ECHL games played on their roster (2329) compared to Iowa (932, fewest in the league).Part of the reason for the “age and experience differential” is because Cincinnati boasts three players (Michael Houser, Justin Vaive and Jesse Schultz) that have skated in the Coast for at least eight seasons each. The alternate captain Schultz is 39 years old and the second-eldest player in the Premiere Double A.Iowa has had 38 rookies skate for the team this season. Cincinnati has had 31.  Scouting CincinnatiThe Cyclones are playing their second game of the week; the club won at Kalamazoo Wednesday, 4-0, in their second game of a five-game road trip. In the Wednesday game, the Cyclones potted three in the opening six minutes and Sean Bonar blocked 29 shots for his ninth ECHL shutout.Cincinnati averages 3.5 goals per game, fifth in the ECHL. Louie Caporusso is best on the squad with 60 points (40a). Zack Andrusiak, a mid-season acquisition from Idaho, has tallied 25 goals this season (16 with Cincinnati). The Cyclones have four players with at least 20 goals this season (Andrusiak, Caporusso, Jesse Schultz, Lincoln Griffin). Upcoming Home Games- Wednesday, Mar. 23rd at 7:00 p.m. vs. Fort Wayne – game presented by Iowa City Area Association of Realtors- Friday, Mar. 25 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Cincinnati – Elementary School Night presented by MidWestOne Bank- Saturday, Mar. 26 at 7:00 p.m. vs. Cincinnati – First Responders Night presented by Steindler Orthopedic Clinic

The Heartlanders Season ticket memberships, group tickets, mini-plans, flex vouchers and single-game tickets are available for the Heartlanders inaugural season by calling 319-569-GOAL and visiting iowaheartlanders.com/tickets.