CEDAR RAPIDS — Andrew Poturalski hopes he finally can catch a break. Or not catch another break.
In the few games he has played with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, the center has proven he can score goals and make plays. It’s actually playing in games that has been the issue.
Poturalski had two goals and an assist in a two-game weekend last February as an emergency fill-in for the RoughRiders. He impressed enough to be invited back to the club for the rest of the season, but broke an ankle.
Then, as he preparing over the summer for this season, Poturalski broke his fibula in a freak on-ice accident back home in Buffalo, N.Y.
“It was in July. I was at a summer skate, and a kid was messing around and tackled me,” he said. “I just landed on it the wrong way. I knew it was broke right away. I heard it snap, and I couldn’t walk on it at all. I knew something was wrong.”
Poturalski, 18, rehabbed (again) and finally made his 2012-13 debut last weekend for the Riders. All he did in a pair of wins over Indiana was score three goals and pick up two assists.
Quite a feat for a guy who has missed so much time.
“I’ve been really amped up to get back at it,” he said. “It’s been awhile, and it just make you appreciate everything more. I was just happy I could help the team win two games.”
RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson was asked how Poturalski could look so comfortable so quickly after multiple injuries.
“He competes. He really competes, first and foremost,” Carlson said. “And he has the skill to go with it. When you compete first, it goes a long, long way. Some guys have skills, and they compete second. That doesn’t lead you anywhere, except mediocrity. Andrew Poturalski has a chance to be very, very good because he competes first.”
Poturalski said he always has had offensive ability but hedged when asked if he considers himself a natural goal scorer.
“That’s always been my role on the team. To score goals and make plays,” he said. “I just do what I can to try and help the team win games.”
“He’s a jump-on-my-back, let’s-go-on-the-offensive zone type of kid,” Grant Ledyard told the New York Hockey Journal last November.
Ledyard is a former NHL defenseman who coached Poturalski with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, the Junior ‘A’ team Poturalski played on most of last season.
“He attacks the other team.He’s relentless that way,” Ledyard said. “It’s just constant. He gets the puck and he’s going to attack the other team, and it’s going to be a long night if he finds a weakness in one of these guys and he’s out there on the ice against him.”
Poturalski said he thinks getting a chance to play, albeit briefly, last season in Cedar Rapids has helped him make a quick transition to the United States Hockey League. He’s a University of New Hampshire commitment who appears to have a bright future — if he stays healthy.
“I felt really good last weekend,” he said. “We took it slower, wanted to make sure everything was healed and everything was ready to go. I just took my time and made sure I was ready.”
ON TAP: The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders host the Indiana Ice tonight at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, with a 7:05 listed opening faceoff.
SCOUTING REPORT: A quirky schedule has Cedar Rapids and Indiana playing a third-straight game. The RoughRiders won twice last weekend against the Ice, winning last Friday at Cedar Rapids and last Saturday at Indianapolis. The Riders play Saturday night at Dubuque. Cedar Rapids (4-1-2, 10 points) has lost just once in regulation thus far. Indiana is 3-7-1, 7 points.
PLAYER MOVE: The RoughRiders sent second-year defenseman Blake Butzow to the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League this week. Butzow was scoreless in five games this season, with a team-worst minus-five plus-minus rating. He had a goal and two assists in 39 games last weekend.
PROMOTIONS: $1.50 soda, beer and popcorn.
TICKETS: $14 to $20 at the Ice Arena box office (261-GOAL) or online at www.ridertownusa.com. ---- ----