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.

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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!



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.



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.

bachman480



Former RoughRider Miskovic signs with NHL’s Capitals

Former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders defenseman Zach Miskovic has signed a one-year entry level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals, it was announced Thursday. The contract is for the 2009-10 season.

Miskovic was a first-team ECAC Hockey defenseman this season and is considered an all-American candidate. He played 154 career games for St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, not missing any. This season, his senior season, he had 17 goals and 26 points in 39 games. The 17 goals led NCAA Division I rearguards.

Miskovic is a River Forest, Ill., native. He played for Cedar Rapids for three seasons, from 2002 through 2005. His contract with Washington doesn’t begin until next season, though he will join the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears for the rest of this season on a amateur tryout contract.

“Nothing Misky has done has surprised me,” said RoughRiders head coach/general Mark Carlson. “Other people might be surprised, but I’m not.”

Zach Miskovic

Zach Miskovic



Record crowd sees RoughRiders blanked (with quotes)

Didn’t have the chance to talk to anyone for quotes in Sunday’s newspaper story on the RoughRiders-Waterloo game Saturday night, but here’s some player-coach thoughts for my blog.

It was a record crowd of 4,359 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, by the way. Sure, there were the usual pockets of Waterloo fans, but to see a full arena anytime is a great, great thing. This is a good hockey city, with the chance to be a very good one if the ownership of the team can ever get figured out.

Hello, Butch Johnson. Would you be interested in re-purchasing the club?Anyway, I digress …

Here are some of head coach Mark Carlson’s thoughts on last night’s 5-0 loss. Waterloo scored four times in the third period to put away a game that was anyone’s heading to the final 20 minutes. Eriah Hayes scored twice in the period, Craig Smith had a goal and so did Matt Johnson for the Black Hawks. Jordan Samuels-Thomas started the scoring late in the first period. Goaltender Parker Milner picked up his first USHL shutout with a 23-save effort.

“They scored the second goal (of the game) there in the third period, and, obviously that was a big one,” Carlson said. “Whoever got that second one, that was going to be a big one.  Smith had the wrist shot there to make ie 3-0, and we kind of had some problems from there.”

There were 11 penalties called in the first period, with nine power plays. Carlson was asked about that.

“It was the same for both teams, in terms of special teams. You’ve got to find a way. I just didn’t think we were as poised and controlled as we needed to be in power-play situations. That’s where you need execution.”

Cedar Rapids is 2-4-1 in its last seven games. There’s still a month to go in the United States Hockey League season, meaning these are the “dog days” you always hear about in baseball.

Riders defenseman Paul Phillips and goaltender Mike Johnson were asked about playing games this time of year.

“This is when you’ve really got to bear down,” Phillips said. “This is the toughest part of the season. We’re still fighting for a playoff spot, working toward that every single day. We go out every night fighting for a playoff spot. This is when you’ve really got to buckle down.”

“It is (the toughest part of the season),” Johnson said. “And the (opposing teams) just keep getting better, too. I think that’s why it’s tougher for everyone. The guys have been playing together for so long, so every team gets that much better. It’s not like one team gets better, they all do.  And you play everybody enough to where you kind of know all about each other.”

The good news Saturday was that the RoughRiders (31-13-5, 67 points) didn’t lose any ground to East Division leader Green Bay. The Gambers (68 points) lost at Des Moines, 3-2, believe it or not, going 0-2 on the weekend. Indiana, which comes to Cedar Rapids for a Tuesday night game, is one point in back of the RoughRiders and two back of Green Bay. Waterloo is suddenly seven points out of first place and six back of the Riders.

The Black Hawks took the lead in the race for the Corridor Cup, seven points to six. There’s one game remaining between the team, in April at Waterloo.