CEDAR RAPIDS – Who are the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders? Where do their players come from? Do they get paid? What are the rules of the game?
Just a few of the questions you still get asked, even though this is the 15th season of hockey in the City of Five Seasons.
The RoughRiders had their 2013-14 United States Hockey League opener Friday night at Lincoln and the home opener is Saturday night against Sioux Falls. A loyal fan base loves to ring their cowbells and get postgame autographs of their young heroes.
But casual rooters may not know a lot about them or their game. Well, we’re here to inform, so let’s take it away.
Q: Who are the RoughRiders?
A: A junior hockey club that moved from Mason City for the 1999-2000 season, when construction of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena was approved. There have been four owners of the franchise over the years, including current ownership group Newco Riders, LLC: Jeff Jauch (who also is team Chief Executive Officer), Tony Sdao, Mark Carlson (who also is head coach/general manager) and their wives. Jauch moved to Cedar Rapids from Madison, Wis., where he was in business. He is the son of former University of Iowa player and assistant coach Ray Jauch. Sdao is a businessman from Colorado.
Q: Where do the RoughRiders get their players and how much money do they make?
A: RoughRiders players can come from all over the world, but most come from the United States. The USHL conducts drafts each spring, so teams can replenish their rosters, though many players who were never drafted also play in the league. Their primary goal is to continue their careers in college, thus they do not get paid, in order to ensure future NCAA eligibility. All player equipment, however, is provided by the team. Players live with billet families in and around Cedar Rapids, and the club gives monthly stipends to those families to help with costs.
Q: What is the United States Hockey League?
A: The USHL is the top junior hockey league in the country and has a history that dates to 1979. There are 15 franchises, located in Iowa (Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Des Moines, Waterloo and Sioux City), Nebraska (Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney), Illinois (Bensenville), South Dakota (Sioux Falls), North Dakota (Fargo), Indiana (Indianapolis), Ohio (Youngstown), Michigan (Muskegon) and Wisconsin (Green Bay). In addition, the United States National Team Development Program (located in Ann Arbor, Mich.) plays a full USHL schedule as well.
Q: How old are the players?
A: Generally between 16 and 20. Twenty is the age ceiling, though eligibility for the league is predicated on birthdate, which means some players may turn 21 during the season. There is no age floor. There are limits on the number of older players each team can have and the number of foreign players. Younger players attend high school in their respective cities (in Cedar Rapids, that’s Washington), while most graduated players either take college courses (online or at Kirkwood Community College) or have part-time jobs.
Q: Though the main goal of the USHL is to move players on to college hockey, do any of them end up playing professionally? Have any moved on to the National Hockey League?
A: Yes and yes. 165 USHL alumni are currently under NHL contract, according to the USHL’s website. The RoughRiders have had 12 former players make it to the NHL, including defenseman Alec Martinez, who was a member of the Stanley Cup winning Los Angeles Kings in 2012.
Q: How many games are played in a USHL season?
A: That number is 60, 30 at home and 30 on the road. The vast majority are played on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), though there is the occasional weeknight game. The RoughRiders end their regular season April 5 at Waterloo. The top six teams in each of the league’s two conference qualify for the postseason.
Q: Hockey is too confusing. What is icing? What is offside? What are the different penalties?
A: Novice fans often have difficulties picking up the game. The best way to understand it is to watch as much as you can. By most accounts, hockey is most fun when attending a game in person, not watching it on television. Here is a link that explains the basics of the sport: http://proicehockey.about.com/od/learnthegame/a/ice-hockey-rule.htm
Comments are closed.