CEDAR RAPIDS - You break a mirror, you’re supposed to be due seven years of bad luck. You break a glass partition in your own penalty box, it’s apparently seven minutes.
And it wasn’t really bad luck that accounted for three second-period goals in that span that led to a 4-1 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders’ loss Saturday night to Dubuque before 2,807 fans at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. It was just really good play by the Fighting Saints.
They have the most team points in the United States Hockey League for a reason, and they completely outplayed the Riders during a lengthy stretch of the middle period. Eric Freschi had two goals as Dubuque improved to a gaudy 25-6-2 for 52 points.
The scoring flurry came after a hit into the boards at the penalty box shattered the glass on the visitor’s side partition inside the box. The game was delayed while the glass, some of which spilled onto the ice, was picked up.
Penalty box head Andy Pantini was still picking glass out of his hair minutes later. The Riders (15-15-4, 34 points) had a three-game win streak and streak of four consecutive games with a point halted, though they remain upbeat about their recent play.
They play Wednesday night at Omaha, then return home for games Friday and Saturday against Waterloo and Sioux Falls, respectively.
"I thought we worked our tails off tonight," said Riders Coach Mark Carlson. "We've just got to be a little more consistent over 60 minutes. But there were a lot of good things. We're seeing a lot of good, positive improvements from guys."
"You can just tell in the locker room. We just enjoy each other," said forward Andrew Poturalski, who had his team's lone goal early in the third period. "We're really starting to jell. We're a totally new team than we were in the first half of the year. We've just got a great group of guys that really want to make a push toward the playoffs."
Cedar Rapids managed just two second-period shots on goal in the second period, as Dubuque picked up its forecheck and seemed to tired out a forward crew of just 10. Injuries to Gerry Mayhew, Dylan Steman and Dylan Gareau and a 10-game USHL-imposed suspension to Corey Petrash has the team short-handed up front.
Not good against the league’s stingiest team; Dubuque has allowed just 77 goals.
"You have to give them credit. They are a very well-structured team," Poturalski. "They follow their system really well. They're big and strong, and it's just hard to get around them. They're a good team, you have to give them credit. But we're going to get there."
"It's hard, but it's no excuse," Carlson said of playing short-handed. "You've got to find a way."
He and Carlson embraced on the bench as the final buzzer sounded.