CEDAR RAPIDS – If ever a hockey club needed something positive to happen for it, it was the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Saturday night was positive and victorious.
The Riders ended a seven-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over Youngstown before 2,311 fans at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Five different guys scored for Cedar Rapids (16-20-5, 37 points), which won for the first time in six tries on this seven-game homestand.
“We really try not to over-analyze all those things,” said Riders Coach Mark Carlson. “You just play. I think we’ve played some solid hockey lately and sometimes results don’t add up. There was a hockey game here tonight, the guys did a nice job. It was nice for them to get a win.”
Youngstown got the first goal, but the RoughRiders countered with four straight in a generally gritty effort. The third period featured back-to-back bouts that involved Scott Moldenhauer and Ross Olsson of Cedar Rapids. Olsson and Youngstown’s Tommy Davis were ejected for a secondary altercation.
Judd Peterson’s empty netter with just over two minutes to go clinched things. Jack Rowe, Dylan Steman, Andrew Poturalski and Davey Middleton also had goals for the Riders. As has been the pattern this season, the relieving good was sprinkled with some bad, of course.
Goaltender Steve Michalek did not dress for the game and likely will not play the rest of the season, sources said. There was no official word from the RoughRiders, and Michalek was present – in suit clothes – with teammates during a postgame skate with fans.
A Minnesota Wild NHL draft pick Michalek, who joined the team midseason from Harvard College, admitted earlier this season he was part of a widespread academic cheating scandal involving athletes in several sports at the school. Sources said he and others involved in the scandal were informed by the school late this week they must stop playing in order to assure eligibility next season.
Omaha's Max Everson, who left Harvard and has been speculated as part of the cheating scandal, also missed both of his team's games this weekend.
Chris Birdsall was very solid in a 23-save performance that earned him his fourth win of the season for the Riders.
It seems to have been one thing after another this season for Cedar Rapids. The team has no official assistant coaches after Phil Textlaff was dismissed this week and lead assistant Travis Winter left recently to take a head coaching position in the lower-level North American Hockey League.
Part-time goaltending coach Scott Meyer also has left the organization to take a youth coaching position in his hometown Twin Cities.
"It's all how you approach it, you know?" Carlson said. "It's life, right? Life's not easy. Sometimes things happen. You just keep plugging."
Put all that aside. This was a night to feel good about something.