Cincinnati has fielded Cyclones teams in two different leagues: the International Hockey League (1992–2001) and the ECHL (1990–1992, 2001–2004, 2006–present). Together, the franchises have combined to win two Kelly Cups (2008, 2010), two conference championships (2008, 2012), one overall points championship (2008), and three division championships (1996, 2008, 2009).
In 2007–08, the team had the most successful season in ECHL history. 55 wins and 115 points earned them the North Division Championship and Brabham Cup trophy, and the team won its first ever conference and league championships, winning the 2008 Kelly Cup in a six game final over the Las Vegas Wranglers.
They pulled off another championship season two years later, when they vaulted from a 5-seed in the American Conference to a five game win over the Idaho Steelheads in the 2010 Final. Along the way to the 2010 title, they became the sixth of the seven teams in professional hockey history to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win a best of seven playoff series, doing so against the Reading Royals in the American Conference Finals, and played one of the more rigorous playoff years in ECHL history, 24 out of a possible 26 games.
Official Cincinnati Cyclones Website: http://www.cycloneshockey.com/
History of the Cincinnati CyclonesEdit
There have been three separate franchises, known as the Cincinnati Cyclones. All three franchises have been hockey teams, two in the ECHL and one in the IHL.
The Early ECHL Years: 1990–1992Edit
The first franchise to use the name Cincinnati Cyclones was founded in 1990. The team played their games during this time period at the Cincinnati Gardens. They lost in the first round of the playoffs in the 1990–1991 season. In the 1991–1992 season, the Cyclones lost in the Riley Cup semi-finals. The team's owner at the time, Doug Kirchoffer, was granted an IHL franchise who chose to move the Cyclones name to that franchise and relocate the ECHL franchise to Birmingham, Alabama to form the new Birmingham Bulls.
Since moving to Birmingham, this franchise has seen stints in three cities across the United States. The franchise played in Birmingham from the 1992–1993 season until the 2000–2001 season. Following the completion of the 2000–2001 season, the franchise moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey to become the short-lived Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies. The Boardwalk Bullies played for four seasons, the 2001–2002 season through the 2004–2005 season, before being moved to another city. While in New Jersey, the franchise won a Kelly Cup Championship in the 2002–2003 season, defeating the Columbia Inferno in the finals. Despite the success on ice, the Boardwalk Bullies were sold to the current ownership group after low attendance in Atlantic City. The franchise was moved to Stockton, California and changed the name to the Stockton Thunder. The franchise has been in Stockton since 2005–2006 and are coached by a former Cincinnati Cyclones player, Chris Cichocki.
The IHL Years: 1992–2001Edit
The first season in the IHL, Cincinnati failed to qualify for the post-season, which would be the first of only two seasons in which they did not qualify. Paul Lawless, who would eventually be Head Coach and Vice President of Player Development and have -his number 13 retired, began his first a several stints with the team in the 1992–1993 season. On Friday, April 2, 2004, during his number retirement ceremony, he was singled out as a reason for the team's success, both on the ice and in attendance. During the IHL years, the Cyclones set a team record of 8 consecutive 90+ Point Seasons, ending on June 4, 2001 when the International Hockey League ceased operations. During the Cyclones 9 years in the IHL, they won their only Division Championship and Conference Championship, both in the 1995–1996 season, but lost in a seven-game semi-final series to the Orlando Solar Bears.
In 1997, the Cyclones' lease agreement with the Cincinnati Gardens came to an end and the two sides were unable to reach an agreement for a new contract. It was at this time that team owner, Doug Kirchoffer purchased what then was known as Riverfront Coliseum in downtown Cincinnati, re-named it The Crown, renovated the arena, and moved the team there. During the seven seasons the Cyclones were in the arena, the venue was re-named the Firstar Center and now is known as U.S. Bank Arena. The team has since been unsuccessful in reclaiming the higher attendance numbers from the Cincinnati Gardens, until the most recent run at winning the Kelly Cup, where they drew 12,722 fans to the last game of the postseason.
Back in the ECHL: 2001–2007Edit
The third Cyclones franchise started in the 1995–1996 ECHL season as the Louisville River Frogs, playing in Louisville, Kentucky. After three years in Louisville, the team moved to Miami, Florida. After the lone 1998–1999 season as the Miami Matadors, the franchise eventually came into the ownership of a group in Birmingham, Alabama. Upon the IHL fold, the Cyclones name was sold to this ownership group who moved the franchise to Cincinnati to become the new Cincinnati Cyclones.
The first year back in the ECHL ended the team's streak of 90+ Point seasons with the Cyclones finishing just 12 points shy despite a 10 game fewer season length. Former Cyclones player Paul Lawless became head coach, as a mid-season replacement for Ray Edwards.
Before the start of the 2003–2004 season former Cyclones player and assistant coach Chris Cichocki left the Arkansas RiverBlades in order to return as the Cyclones head coach. Despite his success with Arkansas, though, Cichocki led the team to their worst season in points at 54 (previous low being the 61 points in their first IHL season) and failed to make the playoffs for the second time in team history.
Shortly after ending the season without a playoff berth, in April 2004, the Cyclones suspended operations. This suspension in operations was mainly due to lack of revenue brought on by a lack of safe access to the arena. Safe access was limited by construction in Downtown Cincinnati. This dormancy left Cincinnati hockey to the cross-town, Cincinnati Gardens-based AHL rival, Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and stopped the city's record of two minor league hockey teams in the same city for consecutive years.
With minor league hockey dormant in Cincinnati for a year, and plans for the proposed AHL Cincinnati RailRaiders franchise scrapped for 2006–07, on April 21, 2006 the Cyclones announced that they would participate in the upcoming 2006–2007 ECHL season. They returned in the American Conference, North Division of the ECHL and continue to play their home games at U.S. Bank Arena, joining their two ECHL, Ohio rivals, Dayton Bombers and Toledo Storm.
On July 18, 2006, the Cyclones announced their affiliation with the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL and the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. The Cyclones won their first game back in the ECHL on October 20 against the Pensacola Ice Pilots at U.S. Bank Arena with a score of 3 to 1.
On May 23, 2007, the Cyclones announced they had re-signed head coach Chuck Weber to coach the team for the 2007–2008 season. Weber was also the runner-up for the ECHL's Coach of the Year award for 2006–2007.
On August 2, 2007, In addition to the Montreal/Hamilton affiliation, the Cyclones announced an affiliation with the NHL's Nashville Predators and the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.
2007–08 Season: The Kelly Cup Championship SeasonEdit
The Cyclones' 2007–2008 season saw the break numerous franchise and league records. Through 50 games, the Cyclones were 31 games over .500. Attendance at games had increased nearly 40% over 2006–2007 and the club had already surpassed their win total from 2006–2007 (37). They achieved this mark in 24 fewer games. 
On February 23, 2008 David Desharnais recorded two assists, extending his streak of games with at least one assist to 18, this broke the existing ECHL record of 17. In the same game, the Cyclones set a new ECHL record for a single-season winning streak of 15 consecutive wins when the Cyclones defeated the Elmira Jackals in a 5–4 shootout.
The team finished the regular season with 115 points, earning them the Brabham Cup regular season championship. They also won the Northern Division and American Conference regular season titles. Individually, Chuck Weber was named ECHL coach of the year, earning him the John Brophy trophy. David Desharnais claimed three ECHL awards: Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, and the Leading Scorer award with 29 goals and 77 assists for 106 points. In addition, Chad Starling won the award for the most plus/minus points.
The Cyclones entered the playoffs and defeated the Johnstown Chiefs four games to none. The Cyclones moved on to take on the Reading Royals, Cincinnati took the series in seven games to claim the North Division playoff title. Finally, on May 16, 2008, the Cyclones defeated the South Carolina Stingrays, 2-1 in overtime, to claim the American Conference Championship. With their victory, Cincinnati also claimed the E.A. “Bud” Gingher Memorial Trophy.
With a six game victory over the National Conference Champion Las Vegas Wranglers in the Kelly Cup Finals, the Cyclones clinched the first championship in team history. After splitting the first two games in Cincinnati (Cincinnati 4-3 and Las Vegas 1-0), the series shifted to Las Vegas, where Cincinnati won games three and five to take a 3-2 series lead.
In front of a record setting crowd, 12,722 fans, at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati on June 5, the Cyclones defeated Las Vegas in Game Six, 3-1, to take the championship. The clincher was the 71st win of the season. Goalie Cedrick Desjardins was named the Kelly Cup Playoff MVP.
After the Cyclones cup win coach Chuck Weber and assistant coach Dean Stork received multi-year extentions. Weber was also given the title of Vice President. On November 29, Chuck Weber picked up his 100th professional head coaching victory with a 6-3 win at Johnstown.
Cincinnati's season was not as successful as the last one, but they won 41 games for 87 points, repeating as North Division champions. They won a seven game series against Wheeling, including a double overtime game seven win, and swept the Elmira Jackals to win the North Division playoff title. However, the Cyclones would be swept by the South Carolina Stingrays in the American Conference Finals. Ironically, these two teams met in the conference finals the year before, with Cincinnati picking up a five game win.
2009–10 season, Champions AgainEdit
The 2009-2010 season proved to be more successful than the last. Cincinnati ended up with 44 wins and 91 points, the wins total being the most in the American Conference. Despite that, the Cyclones finished 2nd in the North Division to the Kalamazoo Wings and wound up 5th in the conference. This meant a rematch with 4th seeded, and defending champion, South Carolina in the first round, a matchup in which Cincinnati defeated the Stingrays in five games, ending on April 11, when veteran captain Barrett Eghotz scored in overtime for the 3-2 win in Game Five. The game was the third straight overtime game in the series. This set up a matchup with the top seeded Charlotte Checkers, and once again for Cincinnati it went the distance. Game Seven saw Cincinnati post a 2-1 victory, and in the process end Charlotte's tenure in the ECHL, as Charlotte would begin play in the AHL the following year.
Cincinnati drew the Reading Royals in the American Conference Final. What was in all other accounts an epic seven game series was marred by several incidents, both on and off the ice, that resulted in suspensions and fines to players and staff of both organizations. The worst of it occurred after game six, when Reading's Scott Fletcher allegedly struck a Cincinnati fan with a stick, drawing an indefinite suspension by the league. Nevertheless, the series made ECHL history when, after losing the first two at home, then Game Three at Reading, Cincinnati posted wins of 6-4, 5-0 and 6-3 to force the team's third winner take all match in the 2010 playoffs. The game occurred on May 12 at US Bank Arena. In front of 5,340 fans, the Cyclones posted a 1-0 win to become the first team in ECHL history, and the 6th pro team in history, to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best of seven series. The only goal of the contest was scored by Barret Ehgoetz 13:48 into the game.
The Cincinnati Cyclones defeated the Idaho Steelheads in the 2010 Kelly Cup Final, four games to one. Cincinnati used game-winning goals within the last minute in the first two games, a 3-2 win on a goal by Mark Van Guilder with 49.2 seconds remaining on May 14, and a 1-0 win the next night, when Mathieu Aubin netted the only goal in the contest, and only with 20.1 seconds remaining in regulation. The series shifted to US Bank Arena, and witnessed an Idaho victory within the first minute of the 2nd overtime of Game Three, as Evan Barlow received a pass at the bottom of the right circle and fired the puck into a largely vacated goal, as Cyclones goalie Robert Mayer had committed to the left side.
In front of yet another ECHL playoff record setting crowd of 13,483 at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati on May 21, the Cyclones defeated Idaho in Game Five, 2-1, to take the championship. With the victory, the Cyclones clinched their second Kelly Cup title in three years. The game was also the Cyclones 24th Kelly Cup playoff game, surpassing the club record of 22 postseason games played by the 2008 championship team and is one more than South Carolina (23) had in its title run in 2009. Rookie Cyclones goaltenders Robert Mayer and Jeremy Smith were named co-winners of the Kelly Cup playoffs MVP. Cincinnati finished with a total record of 59-32-4.
Head coach Chuck Weber lost his assistant, Dean Stork, on June 29, when Stork was named head coach of the Greenville Road Warriors, also from the ECHL. Weber would later in the summer recieve a promotion, when the Florida Panthers hired him to become head coach of the Rochester Americans on July 27. He would later be transferred to San Antonio, and is now the head coach of the San Antonio Rampage.
The Cyclones underwent sweeping changes before the 2010-2011 season when assistant coach Dean Stork became the head coach of the Greenville Road Warriors in June and head coach Chuck Weber was promoted to the American Hockey League as On August 4, Cincinnati signed a new affiliation agreement with the NHL's Florida Panthers, who at the time used Rochester as their AHL farm team, creating a working relationship between Chuck Weber and his former Cyclones team. The Panthers were also the team that caused problems for the Miami Matadors, being located in the same market, causing the Matadors to suspend for two years before becoming the new Cyclones. On August 12, Cincinnati named Jarrod Skalde as the new head coach.
After undergoing this major coaching overhaul and losing a large portion of their roster, the Cyclones went on to post their third lowest points total in franchise history. Despite this, they earned a 7th seed in the ECHL playoffs, but lost in the first round to Reading Royals, three games to one.
The 2012 season would be, in comparison to the lengthy success of the past, disastorous. Despite heavy support by new AHL affiliate San Antonio, the Cyclones could not come out of the gates quick enough, and while they stayed competitive throughout the season, they fell victim to domination by the Atlantic and South divisions, and wound up with 35 wins and 79 points, the third lowest wins total and second lowest points total in team history. To add further infamy, only division winner Kalamazoo made the playoffs from the North division. Cincinnati would finish 10th in the conference, marking only the third time in their 20-season history that they did not make the playoffs.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, SOL = Shootout losses, Pts = Points, PCT = Winning percentage, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalty infraction minutes
|1990–91||ECHL||West||64||37||24||0||3||0||77||0.578||285||281||1954||Dennis Desrosiers||Lost in round 1|
|1991–92||ECHL||West||64||36||20||0||8||0||80||0.562||329||284||2323||Dennis Desrosiers||Lost in round 3|
|1992–93||IHL||IHLA||82||27||48||0||7||0||61||0.329||305||364||2388||Dennis Desrosiers||Out of Playoffs|
|1993–94||IHL||IHLC||81||49||23||0||9||0||107||0.605||336||282||2214||Dennis Desrosiers, Richard Kromm, Terry Murray||Lost in round 2|
|1994–95||IHL||Midwest||81||49||22||0||10||0||113||0.605||305||272||2125||Don Jackson||Lost in round 2|
|1995–96||IHL||IHLN||82||51||22||0||9||0||111||0.622||318||247||1806||Ron Smith||Lost in round 3|
|1996–97||IHL||IHLN||82||43||29||0||10||0||96||0.524||254||248||1890||Ron Smith||Lost in round 1|
|1997–98||IHL||IHLC||82||40||30||0||12||0||92||0.488||275||254||1702||Ron Smith||Lost in round 2|
|1998–99||IHL||IHLNE||82||44||32||0||6||0||94||0.537||269||270||1835||Ron Smith||Lost in round 1|
|1999–00||IHL||IHLE||82||44||30||0||8||0||96||0.537||244||246||1688||Ron Smith||Lost in round 3|
|2000–01||IHL||IHLE||82||44||29||0||9||0||97||0.537||267||258||1273||Ron Smith||Lost in round 1|
|2001–02||ECHL||Northwest||72||36||30||6||0||0||78||0.542||210||207||1462||Ray Edwards, Paul Lawless||Lost in round 2|
|2002–03||ECHL||Northwest||72||36||29||7||0||0||79||0.549||257||236||1686||Malcolm Cameron||Lost in round 3|
|2003–04||ECHL||Northern||72||25||43||4||0||0||54||0.375||175||223||1308||Chris Cichocki||Out of Playoffs|
|2006–07||ECHL||North||72||37||29||0||4||2||80||0.556||213||198||1602||Chuck Weber||Lost in round 3|
|2007–08||ECHL||North||72||55||11||0||1||4||115||0.799||292||178||1311||Chuck Weber||ECHL Champions|
|2008–09||ECHL||North||72||41||26||0||2||3||87||0.604||256||231||1391||Chuck Weber||Lost in round 3|
|2009–10||ECHL||North||72||44||25||0||2||2||91||0.611||253||200||1138||Chuck Weber||ECHL Champions|
|2010–11||ECHL||North||72||33||29||0||6||4||76||0.528||199||229||1351||Jarrod Skalde||Lost in round 1|
|19 Seasons||2||10||1440||771||531||17||106||15||1684||0.569||5042||4708||32447||11 Head Coaches||17/19 Playoff Seasons|
- A - Chad Starling
- A - Barret Ehgoetz*
- A - Matt MacDonald*
- - Jean-Michel Daoust and Scott Reynolds also wore the A temporarily while Ehgoetz was injured and MacDonald was on recall to Rockford (AHL).
Hall of FamersEdit
- 20 - Kevin Kerr: All-time leader in scoring for non-NHL players, played three seasons and 112 games with Cincinnati, tallying 145 points in regular season play and 19 points in 13 playoff games with the Cyclones.
- 30 - Cedrick Desjardins: The 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player... posted a 40-23-3 record in two seasons as Cyclones netminder.
- 21 - Gilbert Dionne: scored 134 goals in 313 games with the team, and won the 1999 IHL All Star Game MVP Award in a game played at US Bank Arena.
- 22 - Don Biggs: The centerpiece of the team for many years, Biggs played 458 games for Cincinnati, scoring 147 goals and tallying 444 points total. Both totals are records for any player from any version of the Cyclones.
- Coach Ron Smith - Head coach of the Cyclones from 1995-2001. Tallied a franchise record 266 wins during his six years with the team.
- 7* - Retired in honor of the fans. The fans, being the seventh player, were recognized by the team by the dedication of the number 7 to them.
- 22 - Don Biggs
- 13 - Paul Lawless on April 2, 2004.
- 14* - Retired in honor of Pete Rose, the Cincinnati Reds baseball player. Since he is banned by Major League Baseball, the Reds cannot retire his number. The Cyclones retired the number in his honor for this reason.
- 21 - Gilbert Dionne - Retired on December 2, 2006.
* - Denotes honorary number.
- Cyclones coach Don Jackson punches the Atlanta mascot, thus drawing a suspension from the league.