Diamonds and Ice


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.



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.”