Coach Macdonald: Cincinnati Cyclones turn to one of their own to begin new era

CINCINNATI – The Cyclones are turning to one of their own to lead them into a new era.

On Tuesday, the ECHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators announced that 31-year-old Matt Macdonald has been named the eighth head coach in club history.

He replaces Ben Simon who on Aug. 5 took a job as an assistant with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League – hockey's top minor league. Simon led the Cyclones to the Kelly Cup finals in his lone season in Cincinnati.

Macdonald, a Niagara Falls, Ontario native, is familiar with the team he is inheriting. He spent parts of three seasons as a Cyclones player before starting his coaching career in Cincinnati during the 2012-13 season.

"This is one of the best organizations in the league," said Macdonald, who has been a part of the staff for the Cyclones’ back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances. 

"To be taking over after the success we've had in the past few of years and as a player here, makes me feel honored and privileged. To be able to take the reins of this organization is something I've always wanted to do.”

Team general manager Kristin Ropp said her new coach’s relationship with the team made him a perfect fit to continue the organization’s recent string of success.

"It is always our hope to promote from within the organization and Matt certainly deserves this call up," Ropp said. "I look forward to working with him again this season and seeing him in this new role."

Macdonald played 119 regular season games and tallied 44 points (5 goals, 39 assists) between 2006 and 2009 for the only pro hockey team in Cincinnati. Macdonald also contributed 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in 44 Kelly Cup Playoff games and was a member of Cincinnati's first-ever Kelly Cup title in 2008.

He also had social success during his time in the Queen City. He met his wife, Erin, a Mason, when he played here. The couple has a 1-year-old daughter, Hazel.

“There's no other place I'd rather be,” Macdonald said.

In addition to his experience in Cincinnati, Macdonald played defenseman for several clubs in the AHL and the Central Hockey League over his eight-year pro career. He also suited up for a club in Denmark, which he helped to a bronze medal and was a Danish Cup title in 2010-11.

During his playing career he skated in 385 games as a professional and tallied 133 points (30 goals, 103 assists) with 732 career penalty minutes.

Prior to going pro, Macdonald was a four-year letter winner at St. Lawrence University, where he amassed 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) and 131 penalty minutes in 118 career collegiate games.

Given Macdonald's lengthy list of accomplishments on the ice and from the bench, Cyclones president Ray Harris called the promotion “well-deserved.”

"Over the years, he has proven himself to be an exemplary leader both on and off the ice,” he said. “We're very excited to see him carry on the winning tradition he has helped build here in Cincinnati."

The Cyclones regular season begins Saturday, Oct. 25 when they play host to the Kalamazoo Wings. The game at US Bank Arena begins at 7:30 p.m.

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