Diamonds and Ice

It’s RoughRiders against Indiana in playoffs

Give the Des Moines Buccaneers credit for trying. They led the Green Bay Gamblers three different times in their regular-season finale Sunday night in Wisconsin, but Green Bay rallied for a 6-4 win that gives it the USHL’s East Division championship and Anderson Cup for most regular-season points in the league.

What that means is that the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders will play the Indiana Ice in a best-of-5 first-round playoff series that begins Friday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Game 2 is Saturday night at The Stable.

Cedar Rapids finished the regular season with a 38-17-5 record and 81 points, one less than Green Bay and one more than Indiana. The RoughRiders went 4-2-1 against the Ice in the regular season, including a 6-0 spanking of the Ice last Friday night in Cedar Rapids.

Green Bay plays Waterloo in the other East Division first-round playoff series.

RoughRiders’ Donovan, Seidel named to all-USHL team

Defenseman Matt Donovan and forward Mike Seidel have been named to the all-United States Hockey League team, it was announced Sunday.

Donovan was named to the first team, one of only five RoughRiders to earn that honor. The others were goalies Bobby Goepfert (2001-02) and Alex Stalock (2005-06), defenseman Derek Peltier (2003-04) and forward Jacob Cepis (2006-07).

Donovan scored 19 goals and had 51 points this season, both highs for league defensemen and franchise single-season records. The University of Denver commitment and New York Islanders NHL draft pick had 31 goals and 81 points in his two-year RoughRiders career.

Seidel, a Minnesota-Duluth signee, played three seasons for the Riders, setting the franchise’s career records for goals (60), assists (103) and points (163). He had 29 goals and 44 assists this season.

Chicago’s Andrew Miller was named USHL Player of the Year and Forward of the Year. Chicago’s John Moore was named USHL Defenseman of the Year and Fargo’s Mike Lee Goaltender of the Year. Louis Leblanc of Omaha was Rookie of the Year.

Other award winners included Fargo’s Dean Blais (Coach of the Year), Green Bay’s Jon Cooper (General Manager of the Year), Lincoln’s Jim Pflug (Executive of the Year), Omaha’s Jeff Teglia (Scholar-Athlete Award), Chicago’s Mike Walsh (Curt Hammer Award for most gentlemanly player on and off the ice). Fargo was named Organization of the Year.

The rest of the USHL First Team included goalie Brett Bennett (Indiana) and forwards Mike Cichy (Indiana) and Craig Smith (Waterloo). The second team included goalie Kevin Murdock (Lincoln), defensemen David Makowski (Green Bay) and Jake Newton (Lincoln) and forwards Stephane DaCosta (Sioux City) and Andy Taranto (Fargo).

Joining Lee and Leblanc on the All-Rookie Team were defensemen Torey Krug (Indiana) and Brett Kostolansky (Chicago) and forwards David Eddy (Sioux Falls),  Stanislav Galiev (Indiana) and Alex Chiasson (Des Moines).

All of the USHL awards were decided by a vote of league coaches.

RoughRiders clinch 2nd, have chance at title

It all comes down to Sunday night.

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders went into Waterloo on Saturday night and pulled out a 4-1 victory. That clinches at least second place in the East Division for the Riders, who finish the regular season with a 38-17-5 record. Their 81 points are good for first place … right now.

Second place Green Bay is one point back and has one more regular-season game to go tonight at home against Des Moines. The Gamblers beat the East Division’s worst team on Saturday night, 4-1.

If Green Bay wins Sunday, it is East Division champ and Anderson Cup champ for most regular-season points in the league. If it loses in regulation, Cedar Rapids is champion of both. If Green Bay loses in overtime or a shootout, the teams finished tied, with Green Bay winning  the tiebreaker playoff wise. The teams split eight games this season, but one of Cedar Rapids’ victories was in a shootout. That gives Green Bay nine points in the season series to Cedar Rapids’ eight.

The RoughRiders’ victory Saturday night also clinched the Corridor Cup, given annually to the series winner between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Cedar Rapids has clinched home-ice advantage for the first round of the USHL playoffs, with Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-5 series likely being Friday and Saturday nights at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Now who will the opponent be? If the RoughRiders win the division outright, they will face Waterloo. Wouldn’t that be fun? If they finish second or in a tie for first, the first-round opponent will be Indiana.

By the way, the RoughRiders ended the regular season with a four-game winning streak. The victories came over West Division champion Lincoln, Green Bay, Indiana and Waterloo.

It doesn’t get more impressive than that!

Winkler, Bergman back (?) and a coach-less practice
April 2, 2009, 10:18 pm
Filed under: hockey, USHL, Cedar Rapids, Kernels, baseball, NFL

Forward Scott Winkler will miss Friday’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders game, sitting out a one-game USHL-mandated suspension for a game misconduct in a game March 7 against Waterloo. Winkler was given a checking-from-behind major penalty along with the game misconduct. RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson was not aware Winkler was supposed to sit out the following game, thus the suspension Friday.

Injured Riders forward Robin Bergman said Thursday that he hopes to begin skating next week with an eye toward playing in the USHL playoffs. Bergman was injured in practice last week and has what appears to be a right foot injury, though the team has described it only as a lower-body injury. He was in a walking boot last weekend.

By the way, the USHL playoffs for the RoughRiders will likely start next Friday. The first two games will be at the rink of whomever gets home-ice advantage, with Games 3 and 4 slated for Wednesday, April 15 and Friday the 17th at the other team’s arena. The deciding Game 5 would be the following night.

Carlson was so upset with his team after a loss last weekend at Green Bay, he didn’t attend practice the following day, telling his captains to run it.

Here’s a story that will be in Friday’s Gazette. Kind of interesting.

CEDAR RAPIDS [–] As a coach, you try a lot of different things to get your team to play well.
You work your guys hard, you work them lightly. You try motivational speeches, you tell jokes to lighten the mood.
Mark Carlson tried the absence method last week. The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders head coach/general manager was so peeved at his team for a loss at Green Bay, he made his captains run practice the following day.
Carlson and his assistant coaches simply left the ice and went back to the locker room. After a while, Carlson reappeared and told everyone practice was over.
[“]There was really no need for me to go out there because they weren[‘]t really listening anyway,[“”] Carlson said.
So what was the team[‘]s reaction?
[“]I didn[‘]t wait around to find out,[“”] Carlson said.
[“]It was kind of a wake-up call,[“”] said goalie Mike Johnson. [“]We knew we were a lot better than the way we[‘]d been playing. We definitely learned a lesson.[“”]
Let[‘]s see if it[‘]s a long-lasting lesson. The RoughRiders put together two good games last weekend after Carlson[‘]s disappearing act, winning at Lincoln in overtime and topping Green Bay at home, 4-1.
The regular season ends this weekend with a home game tonight against Indiana and a road game at Waterloo.
[“]I think the guys realize the season is short (now),[“”] said Riders winger Mike Seidel. [“]We want to be here for the next month and a half or whatever it is.
[“]It[‘]s the end of the season, and you want to be able to look at your teammates and say you did everything you could to win.[“”]
Seidel was one of the guys who ran the coachless practice. He said the team worked on things like getting to the net and finishing checks.
After practice, there was a player[‘]s-only meeting to clear the air.
[“]I think we showed last weekend that we[‘]ve figured it out,[“”] Johnson said.
Carlson said he wants more proof before he[‘]ll agree with that.
[“]We[‘]ll see,[“”] he said. [“]It was only one weekend. Last weekend, (the play) was better, but I don[‘]t think it had anything to do with me. Sooner or later, I don[‘]t care whether it[‘]s hockey or baseball or whatever it is, the players have to take over at some point. Maybe they have.[“”]
@Netline:n Contact the writer: (319) 398-8259 or

RoughRiders announce team award winners

Mike Seidel was named Most Valuable Player and Best Offensive Player of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in a vote of fans, it was announced at the RoughRiders’ annual postseason banquet.

Seidel is the Riders’ franchise leader in goals and points. He leads the team in goals and points this season as well.

Other award winners: Matt Donovan (Best Defensive Player), Paul Phillips (Unsung Hero), Troy Grosenick (Most Improved) and Jeff Costello (Fan Favorite).

Donovan also won the team’s Community Service Award. Nick Oddo received the Phil Weber Memorial Scholarship. Craig Daves was named Volunteer of the Year and Alissa Wanless Intern of the Year.

RoughRiders players are expected to be behind the bench tonight during the Cedar Rapids Youth Hockey Association’s Mite-level championship game at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Three players will serve as coaches for the Cedar Rapids Army team and three more will be coaches for the Cedar Rapids Miami mites.

“This is going to be really good for the kids in our hockey program,” said arena hockey operations director Kevin Brooks.

Other RoughRiders players will be at the controls for a pregame light show and player introductions, as well as handling public-address duties throughout the game.

Despite economy, Kernels doing OK

Despite the worst economy this country has seen in decades and the fact that Cedar Rapids is still in recovery mode from last summer’s devastating floods, Cedar Rapids Kernels General Manager Jack Roeder said Tuesday his Midwest League baseball club is in good shape from a financial standpoint.

“We’re really doing very well, all things considered,” Roeder said. “We’ve spent time with the other teams in the Midwest League. We had a Midwest League spring meeting, and there’s a lot of clubs who are struggling in some areas. We can’t say that we’re struggling in any areas.”

Roeder said he breaks things down into three categories: season-ticket sales, advertising sales and group sales. The Kernels have sold roughly 350 season tickets for the 2009 season, which begins next week, including a new 10-game ticket voucher package. That’s on par with previous seasons.

Advertising also is doing well. The only area where the club is experiencing some downturn is in group sales, though Roeder said he is confident that will pick up as the season starts.

“When all is said and done, we’re ahead of last year’s season-ticket sales and at or close to our advertising goal,” Roeder said. “The one area where maybe we’re down in in groups.

“I have to give our staff a lot of credit for going out in the community over the winter months. They’ve done a very good job. I feel if you are a reasonably priced and provide good entertainment value, people are going to support you. I think we are reasonably priced and that we’ve got a good product to sell. That is an advantage during these tough times.”

There has been some bad timing, though, in that the Kernels are raising ticket prices by a dollar this season. Individual game tickets range from $7 to $10. It’s the second time since the newer Memorial Stadium opened eight years ago, that ticket prices have risen.

Roeder said the increased prices do not affect group tickets.

“We have a lot of loyal fans and supporters out there,” Roeder said. “We raised the prices last fall, before the downturn in the economy. We’ve raised just walk-up tickets, not group. I still think it’s a great value.”

Among the Kernels’ more interesting promotions this summer is an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders June 18, Zach Johnson bobblehead day June 21 and an appearance by San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding only July 5.

Roeder said Kaeding also will sign autographs. He is scheduled to kick 20 footballs into the stands for fans, and will have a baseball card of himself passed out.

“Again, we just feel very fortunate that we are doing OK during these tough economic times,” Roeder said.

The season opens April 9 at home against Beloit. The team is scheduled to arrive in Cedar Rapids late Monday afternoon.

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll

Zach Johnson bobblehead doll

NHL’s Stars sign former RoughRider goalie Bachman

Richard Bachman signed a three-year entry level contract with the NHL’s Dallas Stars this weekend. Bachman played for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the 2006-07 season, then went on to play two stellar seasons at Colorado College.

Bachman is the second former Rider to sign a pro deal this week. Defenseman Zach Miskovic signed with the Washington Capitals earlier in the week.

Here’s the press release from the Stars:


FRISCO, Tex. – The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has signed goaltender Richard Bachman to a three-year entry-level contract. Bachman recently wrapped up a two-year career at Colorado College, and will forego his final two seasons of eligibility with the Tigers. Richard Bachman “Richard had an outstanding, highly-decorated career at Colorado College, and he’s ready to take the next step into the professional ranks,” said Dallas Stars Co-General Manager Les Jackson. “He has an outstanding set of fundamentals and a very bright future ahead of him, and we look forward to his continued development in our organization.” Bachman, 21, appeared in 35 games for Colorado College as a sophomore in 2008-09, posting a 14-11-10 record with a .914 save percentage, a 2.63 goals-against-average and three shutouts. As a freshman in 2007-08, the Salt Lake City native was named the National Rookie of the Year by the HCA (Hockey Commissioner’s Association) and Inside College Hockey magazine, and became just the second player ever to be named WCHA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season. The 5-11, 170-pound goaltender also earned First Team West All-America and First Team All-WCHA honors, and was named to College Hockey News’ All-Rookie Team. Originally selected by Dallas in the fourth round (No. 120 overall) in the 2006 Entry Draft, Bachman backstopped CC to the WCHA title in 2007-08, shattering school records with a 1.85 goals-against-average and .931 save percentage, both of which ranked third in the nation. He posted a stellar 25-9-1 record with four shutouts, and allowed two-or-fewer goals in 25 of his 35 starts as a freshman.