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 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.

Floods force USHL’s Fargo Force to the road

The United States Hockey League’s Fargo Force have had their weekend home games moved from the Urban Plains Center because of record flooding that is deluging the North Dakota city.

Friday night’s game against the Tri-City Storm was moved to the Centennial Center in Grafton, N.D. The listed attendance for the game was 630.

Saturday night’s game between the teams will be played in Grand Forks, N.D., at the Purpur Arena.

“With all that is going on out there, these are just games and out there is real, it would be very distasteful for us to move forward playing these games in town.  This was not a hard decision to make, it is the right thing to do,”  Force Director of Media Andy Leapaldt told

The Force is donating $1 from every ticket sold to the local Red Cross to aid in the fight against the flood.  In addition, all concession revenues will be donated to local venues. 

“Our hearts go out to those in the Red River Valley affected by this flooding,” said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince.  “Together with the ownership, management, staff and players of the Fargo Force, we at the USHL want to thank the cities of Grafton and Grand Forks for opening their doors and being partners during this turbulent time.  Without the support and flexibility they have shown, this could not be possible.”

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

How about RoughRiders-Waterloo play outside at Memorial Stadium?

Just came across an online story about the Omaha Lancers of the USHL moving back to Omaha’s Municipal Auditorium next season. The team had been playing in a new arena across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs. The story also mentioned how Omaha and the rival Lincoln Stars might talk about playing a game outdoors in the next couple of years, borrowing a successful page from the NHL’s book.

The Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks played at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day, which was a smashing success. Last season, the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

So how about the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Waterloo Black Hawks agreeing to play a game or two outside? Maybe play one game here at Memorial Stadium next season and one at Waterloo’s Municipal Stadium the following season?

It would take a lot of work, but you would think it would generate tremendous buzz in both communities, help the sport of hockey and the USHL. You could donate most of the ticket proceeds from the game to flood relief in C.R. and Waterloo.

What do you all think? Good idea or pipedream? The possibilities have me kind of excited.

Winter Classic Hockey

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).”



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?

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