BY MIKE MASTOVICH
Cullen Eddy appreciated the irony of his playing for the Cincinnati Cyclones on Sunday afternoon at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
The former Somerset High School hockey star skated for the Cyclones in the team’s final appearance at the venerable War Memorial. The ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs will move to Greenville, S.C., next season.
“Growing up with high school hockey here and now playing here is a lot of fun,” said Eddy, a rookie defenseman who recently completed his career at Mercyhurst College. “To come back here as a professional and play (Cincinnati’s) last game here at the War Memorial is pretty cool. It’s kind of surreal. Growing up watching the Chiefs and coming to the games sometimes, to actually play against them is pretty cool.”
Eddy also made his pro debut against the Chiefs after joining the Cyclones on March 18. That game was played at Cincinnati’s U.S. Bank Arena. He’s scoreless in four ECHL games. He took a tripping penalty and a holding penalty during Cincinnati’s 3-2 win over Johnstown on Sunday.
Fourth-year Cyclones coach Chuck Weber sees a lot of potential in Eddy. Weber should know, he coached Cincinnati to the 2008 Kelly Cup championship.
“He’s come in and done a good job coming from a college setting,” Weber said. “He’s got a great first three steps. Being a 21-year-old kid, he’s got a lot of potential. He’s got an edge to his game. He’s got some improvements to make on just reading plays and his play with the puck.
“He’s a kid that we think if we would have had since October we’d be really intrigued on where he would be right now as a player.”
At Mercyhurst, Eddy played 144 games, scoring nine goals and 49 points.
He had 322 penalty minutes. Eddy was on the All-Freshman Atlantic Hockey squad and was part of the conference finals in 2008 and 2009.
“He’s my ninth Mercyhurst guy in my four years,” Weber said. “I have a great relationship with them. Right now, we have five players from Mercyhurst College on our team from all different graduating classes. They’ve done a great job of their development of their guys.”
Eddy will graduate from Mercyhurst in May with a degree in biology and an emphasis on pre-medicine.
“If hockey doesn’t work out, I can fall back on that,” Eddy said. “It’s always nice to have a backup plan.”
At Somerset, he graduated in three years.
As a freshman on the hockey team, he helped the Golden Eagles advance deep into the state playoffs while playing in the Penguin Cup final.
“That was my ninth-grade year,” Eddy said. “We had a pretty good team that year. I miss those guys a lot. We had a good time. Somerset hockey was always fun. Your peers and friends, the community knows all about it. We went to the Penguin Cup.”
He also was part of a 2006 team that advanced to the Chiefs Cup final.
Eddy had his share of supporters among a War Memorial crowd of 2,362 on Sunday.
“It was pretty cool to have a lot of family and friends in the stands,” Eddy said.
Weber said Eddy most likely will have to at least begin next season at the ECHL level, but he has the potential to play at a higher level.
“He’s probably going to have to start in the Coast (ECHL) next year,” Weber said.
“He’s got some American League upside especially at his age, how young he is and he’s a strong kid. If he’s willing to play with an edge consistently, he’s got a future playing pro hockey.”