Diamonds and Ice

Former Rider Abdelkader called up to NHL

Former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward Justin Abdelkader was recalled Friday to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Abdelkader had 14 goals and 13 assists in 44 games this season for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. Detroit plays Washington on Saturday.

The Red Wings have injuries and sickness running through their forward corp right now, which precipitated Abdelkader’s recall. You might remember he made his NHL debut late last season on a PTO (Pro Contract Tryout) before signing a three-year deal with Detroit this past offseason.

Abdelkader led Michigan State to the NCAA Division I title in the 2006-07 season. He had 27 goals and 52 points in 60 games for Cedar Rapids in its 2004-05 Clark Cup championship season.

Here’s a link to the official press release:



Father of former Hawkeye gets NFL coordinator job
January 30, 2009, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Greg Mattison, father of former Iowa Hawkeye defensive end Bryan Mattison, has been named the new defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. Mattison joined the NFL club in 2007 from the University of Florida as linebackers coach.

The Iowa-Baltimore Raven connection continues, eh?

Here’s a link from the Baltimore Sun:

Deal to sell RoughRiders continues forward

Word is the sale of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to a Canadian businessman continues to move forward, though slowly.

The framework for a deal to sell the club to Gary Gelinas has pretty much been finalized. There are a couple of things yet to be done, though, including Gelinas’ desire to meet with the city’s Five Seasons Facilities Commission to talk about a long-term lease to remain in the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The current lease runs through next season.

The franchise is owned by Mercantile Capital Partners of Chicago, who has had it on the market for a year after attempts to negotiate a long-term lease with the city failed. Word has it the frosty relationship that developed between MCP and the Five Seasons Facilities Commission had much to do with a former RoughRiders’ front-office employee.

Gelinas, by the way, is president and general manager of the New Mexico Scorpions of the minor-pro Central Hockey League. He also owns a junior team in the British Columbia Hockey League.

So is this potential ownership change a good thing for the RoughRiders or not? What’s your view?

Please answer this poll and give your feedback.

Will new ownership be a good thing for Cedar Rapids RoughRiders?
( polls)

Here’s RoughRiders brawl video

Just came across this on YouTube. It’s taken from a cell phone and not all that great, but you kind of get the idea about how Saturday night’s brawl between the RoughRiders and Lincoln played out.

Make that Lincoln-instigated brawl. It’s kind of tough to tell how bloody defenseman Doug Leaverton’s face is, but it was a mess – trust me. Bumped into him after Sunday night’s game and he’s got a large cut above his left eye and below it. There are a couple of stitches involved.

Asked him if he was hit by a stick, as someone told me. His simple reply: “Nope, a fist.”

Told him that it was OK because chicks dig scars, to which he replied smiling: “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.”

By the way, I’ve read a lot of feedback from locals about how the decrease in fighting has left them less interesting in the RoughRiders and USHL. The league is much more developmental than it used to be.

What do you all think? Answer the below poll.

Do in-game fights enhance your enjoyment of hockey?
( surveys)

Big skating competition coming to C.R.

Cedar Rapids will be the site of the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s 2010 Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships. The event will be Jan. 28-30, 2010 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Here’s the story:

CEDAR RAPIDS — Zach Huggins is a man among … women.
The 10-year-old from Cedar Rapids is the only member of the Eastern Iowa Figure Skating Club’s synchronized skating program who isn’t female. Not that it bothers him.

“I’ve been skating for three years,” Huggins said, sheepishly. “I was skating alone, but I wanted to be a part of a team. It’s OK. (The girls treat) me good.”

Huggins was one of seven EIFSC synchronized skaters to put on a short performance following Tuesday’s announcement that Cedar Rapids will host the United States Figure Skating Association’s 2010 Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships. The sectional encompasses 37 states and will be held Jan. 28-30 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

“Were it not for a facility like the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, an event like this would not be coming to our city,” said Mary Lee Malmberg, the director of sports tourism for the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Synchronized skating involves eight to 20 participants per team. Each team’s program is judged the same way as singles and pairs skating.

According to the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s Web site, there are 15 levels of synchronized skating separated mostly by age and ability — from Beginner 1 to Adult. The Eastern Iowa Figure Skating Club has 19 participants in its program, all at the Beginner or Pre-Juvenile levels.

“It is the fastest growing discipline of figure skating there is,” said EIFSC President Tammie Hoover. “The number of clubs in the United States that offer it just keeps growing.”

Hoover said the EIFSC has offered synchronized skating for six years, with members this year ranging in age from third grade to senior in high school. That includes sisters Kelsey and DaLynn Pokorny, who were part of Tuesday’s demonstration.

“At first it was kind of hard to learn,” said Kelsey Pokorny, 12. DaLynn is 6. “But then it gets easier as you go along.”

“As parents, we enjoy the travel and the camaraderie between the team members and parents,” said Mike Pokorny, the girls’ father.

Mike Pokorny said his girls practice twice a week for an hour at a time. Most competitions are out of state, primarily in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

That makes Cedar Rapids hosting the 2010 sectional event that much more important, Hoover said. Approximately 120 to 160 teams, ages 6-24, will compete in the event, with a total of around 2,400 skaters.

Top team sectional finishers will qualify for the 2010 United States Synchronized Championships in Minneapolis. Hoover hopes one of those qualifying teams will come from the Eastern Iowa Figure Skating Club.

“We hope to get a quality team set up,” she said. “We hope the more the community sees (synchronized skating), the more it will grow here. This is a team sport like T-ball and soccer.”

Here is a link to the U.S. Figure Skating website.

Got video of Saturday’s brawl?

Go ahead and send it to me here and we’ll post it. That was an ugly situation initiated by Lincoln and the wrong reason to fight. Yet most of the fans in attendance loved it.

RoughRiders defenseman Doug Leaverton came out the worst for wear, with significant cuts above and below his left eye that required a couple of stitches.

I was told after the game that Leaverton had been hit in the eye by a high stick, but Leaverton denied that.

“Nope, a fist,” Leaverton said.

Then it was pointed out to Leaverton that chicks do indeed love scars, which brought a smile to the nicked-up defenseman’s face.

Anyway, if you’ve got any video (phone or whatever) and you want to share, send it to me at here or at


Quotes from last night’s RoughRiders brawl

OK, what was that?
The line brawl early in the third period of Saturday night’s 2-1 RoughRiders victory over Lincoln had many of the 3,000-plus in attendance at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena asking that question.
In a scene straight out of “Slap Shot,” a line brawl erupted that resulted in 108 minutes in penalties, 69 by Lincoln. The second the puck was dropped for a faceoff in the Lincoln zone, Stars forward Jon Puskar dropped his gloves and skated over to RoughRiders forward Cody Murphy.
Murphy had no choice but to oblige, as hell broke loose all over the ice. Riders defenseman Matt Tennyson fought with a Lincoln opponent, defenseman Doug Leaverton went back and forth with Lincoln’s Michael Sdao, with the two fighting so long they ended up at center ice after originally engaging deep in the Lincoln zone. Sdao’s jersey and pads were completely ripped off, and Leaverton was bleeding heavily from his eye and forehead.
Forward Kyle Flanagan was pinned along the boards by two Lincoln players. Five Lincoln players were given fighting majors to three for Cedar Rapids, though Flanagan and Mike Seidel (both of whom decided not to fight) were awarded roughing minors. Six players were given game misconducts. Quite a Goon Fest!!
“It’s a part of hockey,” Murphy said. “I don’t know how to explain it. Everybody was fighting each other. You’ve got to stick up for your teammates.”
“Just a part of hockey, that’s all it was,” concurred Flanagan. “Personally, I didn’t see it coming. Not at all. But it happens in the game sometimes. They were down 2-0, they didn’t have a lot of momentum, it was in our barn.”
Lincoln’s strategy throughout the game was to play physical against the USHL’s least-penalized team, trying to throw the RoughRiders off their game. Cedar Rapids players consistently stayed disciplined, however, unwilling to retaliate or get into any significant rough stuff.
But the Stars apparently wouldn’t take no for an answer. Coach Jimmy McGroarty sent out his toughest line (6-foot-4 Sdao, Puskar and Garrett Peterson) against one of the Riders’ smallest, with what appeared to be one goal in mind.
Not a goal, but an altercation. And, just think, SpongeBob SquarePants was in the house and witnessed all this!!
“Right before that big scrap happened, they were (yelling) ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’” Murphy said. “I was like, you know what, I want to play hockey.
“They were antagonizing me, trying to get me to fight. I was trying to keep my cool. It all happened so fast.”
RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson would not comment on the brawl, even when prodded, though he was clearly not pleased. He could be seen shaking his head in disgust on the bench after things were finally calmed down and the players involved were either sent to the penalty box or off the ice.
Carlson did not look at McGroarty as he shook his hand postgame near the team benches. Lincoln players were booed lustily by the Ice Arena crowd as they left the ice.
“It is dirty hockey,” Murphy said. “It’s not like my type of hockey. I don’t go into games thinking I’m going to get into a fight. I want to play hockey.
“But it is a part of the sport. It happens. So you’ve got to be ready and be there for your team.”