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Preds affiliate in Cincinnati wins 2010 Kelly Cup…

The Nashville Predators became proud “parents” of a champion tonight.

After battling back from a 3-0 series deficit in the semi-finals, Nashville’s ECHL affiliate Cincinnati Cyclones won four straight to advance to the Finals. Tonight, they disposed of the Idaho Steelheads in Game 5 of their Championship series to win the Kelly Cup, the East Coast Hockey League’s equivalent to the Stanley Cup. Cincinnati won 2-1 in front of their home crowd at US Bank Arena.

Predators 2007 2nd round pick Jeremy Smith started between the pipes through the first three rounds of the playoffs for Cincinnati but, after falling behind 3-0 in the semi-finals against the Reading Royals, Cyclones head coach Chuck Weber looked to Montreal Canadiens prospect Robert Mayer. All Mayer did was win all four games against Reading and then four of the five Finals games against Idaho to give Cincinnati their second Kelly Cup in three years.

Weber has been the coach in Cincinnati for four seasons, guiding them to at least the semi-finals each season.

Smith, in his first pro season, was handed the reigns about a month into the season after a shaky start by Mayer. Smith finished the regular season with a 23-15-2 record and 2.63 goals against average. He then led his team into the post season, going 9-7-1 with an impressive (for the ECHL) .907 save percentage before being pulled after Game 3 of the semi’s.

With Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis‘s assumed departure in the off-season, it appears either Chet Pickard or Mark Dekanich will be promoted, leaving a spot available for Smith in Milwaukee come next season.