Diamonds and Ice

Kernels looked into purchasing RoughRiders
November 29, 2008, 9:45 pm
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Found out recently that the Cedar Rapids Kernels, or members of the Cedar Rapids Kernels board of directors, inquired about purchasing their next-door neighbor Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Kernels president Tom Barbee told me last week that the club was still “pursuing” the RoughRiders was not an accurate statement.

In fact, sources have said another potential suitor has signed an agreement with the RoughRiders current owners to exclusively pursue a purchase of the USHL hockey team. The Chicago-based group that owns the club has had it up for sale for about a year, though two or three potential deals have fallen through, the latest coming late in the summer with the owners of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.

We’ll see if this deal actually goes through. There are sticking points to purchasing the club, sources say, including a less-than-desirable lease with the city regarding the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena and the fact that there is still unsolved ligitation against former owner Pat Forciea, who is in prison for fraud.

Brandon Wegher
November 23, 2008, 7:23 am
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Just got done covering Sioux City Heelan’s Class 3A championship football game win over Decorah at the UNI-Dome. All five Heelan touchdowns were recorded by super running back Brandon Wegher, who set a single-season state record for rushing with over 3,100 yards. He had 241 yards against Decorah, finishing his senior season with a whopping 54 touchdowns.

Got to talking to a couple of cohorts after the game about Wegher, a four-star recruit by He is being compared to former Iowa City High standout Tim Dwight because he is going to Iowa, is a state champion sprinter in track and is a smallish running back.

Wegher is actually bigger than Dwight, listed at 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. He has blazing speed in the open field like Dwight. But one thing I remember about Timmy D was that he made you go “Wow!” seemingly every game with some kind of run: whether it be from scrimmage, on a punt return or kickoff return. He’d cut on a dime and just go, never to be touched. I never got that same feeling watching Wegher, even though he had five TDs, including a 100-yard interception return. Weird, huh?

That’s not saying Brandon Wegher won’t be a terrific college football player because I’m sure he will be. He just never left that “Wow Factor” with me Saturday despite having a huge game.

Anyone else see the game and have thoughts?

Opposed to the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena?
November 18, 2008, 10:41 pm
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Hey folks. Am working on a series of stories about the 10-year anniversary (technically, it should be called the nine-year anniversary) of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Want to hear specifically from you citizens who have never been to an event at the Arena or who are opposed to it being here or opposed to the money it took to build it.

If you could just e-mail me at that would be great. I’d love to talk to you.


Thanks, Jeff.

2009 Kernels Coaching Staff
November 15, 2008, 7:52 am
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It hasn’t been released yet, but word is Keith Johnson will return to manage the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the 2009 season. KJ did a fine job in his first year as a professional skipper this past season, leading the Kernels to the second round of the Midwest League playoffs.

Brandon Emanuel is expected to return for his second season as the team’s pitching coach. Former Kernels catcher Brent Del Chiaro is expected to be named the Kernels hitting coach. He was in the Arizona Rookie League last season.

Word is this past year’s hitting coach, Damon Mashore, is being promoted to high-Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

Again, none of this has been officially released by the parent Los Angeles Angels, yet. The club is notorious for being among the last of the major league organizations to publicly release their minor-league coaching staffs each season.

What’s in my iPod?
November 12, 2008, 8:36 am
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A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Am in the process of transferring the 150 to 200-some mixed compact discs I have put together. That’s all legally downloaded music, of course!

Friends give me the business because it’s a very stream of consciousness thing. Whatever artist or song would pop in my head at the time, I’d plop it on a disc. Therefore, you’re likely to see Abba (yes, I know) on the same CD as Def Leppard (yes, I know).

Newer releases I’d recommend right now: Ryan Adams & The Cardinals are my favorite current artist and have an excellent new CD out called “Cardinology.” Highly recommend it. Saw them play at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium in Ames a month ago, and it was a tight show!

Also, just heard the new disc from The Whigs, called “Mission Control.” They are a harder, power-pop group that has been compared to Dinosaur Jr. A Scottish band I’ve always enjoyed is Travis, which has a new CD out called “Ode To J. Smith.” Travis has a U2-esque sound to it.

Another U2-like band is Snow Patrol, which has a new CD out called “A Hundred Million Suns.” You might remember them as the group that sang the popular ballad “Chasing Cars.”

Speaking of U2, it apparently has a new CD coming out sometime early in the new year. If you’ve never seen them live, it’s worth the money. Though is shelling out $100 to see anybody really worth it any more?

Oh, well. That’s just a little music guide for ya’ll from this particular Gazette sportswriter. Two other guys with real good tastes in music on staff are Eric Clark and Marc Morehouse. Ask them what’s hot these days, too, if you’re looking for something good to listen to.

Magallanes leaves Angels
November 6, 2008, 9:20 am
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Former Cedar Rapids Kernels manager Ever Magallanes has left the Anaheim Angels organization and joined the Chicago White Sox, for whom he will manage their Double-A Birmingham affiliate.

Magallanes, 42, managed the Kernels to a playoff berth in 2007 and skippered high-Class A Rancho Cucamonga last season. His brother, Bobby, remains with the Angels.

Don’t expect the 2009 Kernels manager and coaching staff to be announced any time soon. The Angels are notoriously slow in making those announcements. One rumor going around late this past season was that 2008 Kernels skipper Keith Johnson would take over at Rookie-level Orem next season. Johnson lives in Utah and would replace longtime successful manager Tom Kotchman, whose wife suffered a brain aneurysm during the summer.

But, again, this is all rumor at this point.

Hall of Famer at CRIA
November 2, 2008, 3:27 am
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Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios was in attendance at tonight’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders game. He’s the father of RoughRiders forward Dean Chelios.

It’s the second time the future Hall of Famer has been in town. He accompanied his son to RoughRiders tryout camp the summer of 2007.

The elder Chelios has yet to play this season for Detroit, as he is recovering from a broken bone in his leg that was suffered in the preseason.