CINCINNATI, Ohio - Jonathan Hazen's fifth game-winning goal of the postseason was enough to lift the Cyclones (14-8) over the Alaska Aces (14-5) by a 3-1 final score in front of 4,501 at U.S. Bank Arena on Friday The Game 4 win, which included two power-play goals, evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2. With an assist on the opening goal, Byron Froese earned his team-best 26th point of the postseason while Josh Shalla took sole possession of the leading goal scorer title when he lit the lamp for the 11th time of the playoff run. Goaltender Rob Madore (W, 31 saves, 14-8) continued his impressive play, making several game-saving stops and turning aside all but one of the 32 shots he faced in the contest.
Despite the extended season and the long trek from Anchorage, both clubs opened the tilt with pep in their step, setting the fast and physical kind of pace you would expect from teams still playing in June. Neither squad registered a shot on goal for the first five minutes of the game, but when Ross Ring-Jarvi was whistled for tripping, the Cyclones took an early lead by capitalizing on the opportunity. Zach Budish made a perfect pass from behind the net, placing the puck right on the stick of Shalla, who promptly one-timed it past Gerald Coleman (L, 13 saves, 8-4) at 7:48. Both teams exchanged power play chances to close the frame, but the score held and the Cyclones carried their one-goal advantage into the first intermission, despite being outshot 8-3 in the period.
The aggressive play continued into the second stanza, forcing Madore to make several spectacular saves in the opening minutes. After one particularly impressive stop, Hazen scooped up the rebound and skated the puck into the opposite zone and around a defender. He held onto it until the precise second when he could slip it between Coleman's legs at 6:35, giving him his eighth tally of the postseason and extending Cincinnati's lead to two. However, the Aces trimmed the deficit back to one when Tommy Mele converted his fourth of the postseason on an odd-man rush at 10:02. Despite a couple close calls and being outshot 12-8 in the frame, the Cyclones held onto the lead and headed into the final 20 minutes with a one-goal lead.