Diamonds and Ice

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.

RoughRiders dominate USHL all-star tilt

Here’s a story on Wednesday night’s USHL All-Star/Prospects Game in Sioux Falls, S.D., in which the East Division beat the West Division, 4-1.  To say the five Cedar Rapids RoughRiders players in the game had a good night is a big understatement.

Forward Kyle Flanagan was named MVP after scoring a goal and assisting on three others. Forward Mike Seidel was East MVP after scoring twice and assisting on another goal. Forward Jeff Costello also scored, and goalie Mike Johnson picked up the win. Poor old defenseman Matt Donovan had no stats, except for three shots on goal, which is nice.

Cedar Rapids' Kyle Flanagan named USHL All-Star/Prospects Game MVP

Cedar Rapids' Kyle Flanagan named USHL All-Star/Prospects Game MVP



CEDAR RAPIDS — Kyle Flanagan was given a nice big gym bag full of shirts and a brand new pair of skates. Mike Seidel received a new stick.

Matt Donovan helped himself to a pair of sandals that were earmarked for Flanagan. Mike Johnson got his picture taken with Olympic gold-medal gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Jeff Costello got his health back, playing for the first time in two weeks and scoring a goal despite nursing a broken right hand.

Wednesday night’s 2009 USHL All-Star/Prospects Game in Sioux Falls, S.D., was all about the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

“That was really great,” said Flanagan, named the game’s MVP after helping Team CCM (East Division) past Team Reebok (West Division), 4-1. “Obviously I wouldn’t have gotten (MVP) without the two guys playing with me. I’m sure I speak for the whole group when I say that was just a great experience. It was everything it was made up to be.”

As were the five players who represented the RoughRiders in the game. Flanagan scored 1:12 in, then assisted on his team’s other three goals.

Seidel scored two of those, assisting on the other, and was named the East team’s player of the game. Flanagan, Seidel and Costello have played on the same forward line most of this season for Cedar Rapids, which may have been a big advantage.

“We’ve been playing together, so I don’t know how much of a factor that was,” Seidel said. “Everything was going our way, we were working hard. We were told before the game not to take it lightly, that there were going to be a lot of (important) people there. So we just went out and played how we normally played.”

Defenseman Donovan had no points or plus-minus rating but put up three shots on goal. Goaltender Johnson played the first half of the game and was credited with the victory.

It was actually win number two, considering that little photo opportunity he had with Shawn Johnson at a Tuesday night league banquet in which she was the featured speaker.

“She’s small, came up to about here on me,” Johnson said, pointing to his upper chest. “But she is really cute.”

RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson was a proud papa watching his guys do so well. He pointed out it was the result of the effort the five all-stars have put forth on and off the ice.

“I talked to the team about this today, but I think the biggest thing is all five of the players who were there for us have really worked to get to where they are,” Carlson said. “Matt Donovan has worked so hard on his conditioning, Jeff Costello, from June to September, made enormous strides in terms of his body composition.

“Mike Seidel has made dramatic changes and worked so hard. Kyle Flanagan, the jump he made strength wise from this year to last year … And Mike Johnson, you go back to when we first drafted him to today, the way he’s changed his conditioning and got himself in great shape. That’s why those guys were there (at the all-star game).”