CEDAR RAPIDS – Give them a little something for the effort. Maybe half a standings point?
That’s not allowable, of course, but the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders deserve something after a tough 4-2 loss to Dubuque on Saturday night before 3,367 fans at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Massively short-handed up front because of injury and illness, the Riders played the United States Hockey League’s top team virtually even. A bad player change, of all things, led to Frankie DiChiara’s game-winning goal 32 seconds into the third period.
DiChiara scored into an empty net with 44 seconds to go for the final margin.
“In a way, yeah,” RoughRiders center David Goodwin, of the deserved-a-better fate thing. “But at the end of the day, it was a hard-fought game. Both teams were making plays and making mistakes. They did a great job capitalizing on our mistakes, so that’s something we’ve got to look for this week and correct. That’s one of our main focuses.”
Dubuque, which actually ended a three-game losing streak, improved its USHL-best point total to 73 on a 35-9-3 record. The playoff hopes for Cedar Rapids (18-23-7, 43 points) took yet another hit, as it is now eight points in back of Youngstown for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The RoughRiders were without regulars Dylan Gareau (hurt), Judd Peterson (hurt), Ross Olsson (sick) and Andrew Oglevie (sick), forcing Coach Mark Carlson to call up 16-year-old Trevor Stone from the affiliate list. Stone, who was playing with Springfield of the lower-level North American Hockey League, had one of C.R.’s goals, Goodwin the other.
“I thought we played hard, played well,” Carlson said. “A couple of errors that we shouldn’t have made. To their credit, they capitalized. I think our team is playing real good hockey. We’re playing as a team, and playing hard. I thought we executed in a lot of areas. We’ve got to continue to stay positive and keep moving forward.”
Dubuque got the game’s first goal midway through the first period thanks to the individual effort of DiChiara. The left winger drove the net from the right side, beating his check, skating around the net and slipping a goal-mouth pass to a wide-open John Stevens for the dunk.
Cedar Rapids got a huge momentum boost with a great shift in the closing minute of the period that resulted in Goodwin’s goal. The Riders’ work in the Dubuque zone led to about four or five near misses before Goodwin picked up a loose puck at the side of the net and flipped it over prone goalie Christian Frey.
Stone was sprung on a partial breakaway, fought off a defender and shot a puck while falling down that slipped past Frey at nine minutes of the second.
“Who knows, he might play some more games for us,” Carlson said. “He did a real good job.”
His goal seemed to rejuvenate Dubuque, however, with the Fighting Saints tying it 1:34 later on Peter Quenneville’s one-timed blast into the top right corner of the net past Riders goalie Mike Rotolo. Quenneville got free early in the third and ripped a shot that Rotolo stopped but couldn’t locate, with DiChiara finding the puck at his side for the winner.
The RoughRiders played with just 10 forwards in a win Friday night over Chicago and 11 last night. That may have caught up to them in the third period.
“It’s tough, especially on the second game of the weekend,” Goodwin said. “It’s tough, but it gives guys opportunities to get out there more, kind of gives them opportunities to showcase themselves for Coach Carlson. For the most part, I thought we handed that well this weekend, but, obviously, there was a fatigue factor and it did get to us, especially in the third period."
The RoughRiders play Friday night at Dubuque and host Waterloo on Saturday.