CEDAR RAPIDS — Their heads were swimming Thursday afternoon. Yours would be, too.
Mitch Maloney, Brennan Sanford and Logan Von Ruden arrived in town Thursday and went through their first practice as members of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. They hadn’t even officially met their billet families.
“I don’t like flying, either,” Maloney said. “I was pouring sweat, ready to get off that airplane.”
“Yeah, my head is swimming a little bit,” Sanford said. “I’m ready to get started, though. I’m really excited.”
That has to be music to Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson’s ears. He was an extremely busy dude over the holiday break and not just buying Christmas presents for his family.
Carlson traded third-year forward Jack Rowe to the Fargo Force for forward Frederik Tiffels, traded first-year forward Alex Funk to the lower-level North American Hockey League and sent forward Casey Jerry and defenseman Paul O’Connor to the NAHL, keeping their future USHL rights.
He brought in defenseman Von Ruden and forwards Maloney and Sanford from NAHL teams. Let them explain why.
“He said he was looking for a certain player and that I fit that role perfectly,” Sanford said.
"He wants me to be a hard hitter,” Maloney said. “It’s what I’m used to. I’m not really the biggest talent guy around, but I’ll go to the front of the net, feel the hit. I know you guys wanted to add size, and that’s kind of my role here.”
All the newbies check in at 200-plus pounds. Carlson hopes they mesh well with the holdovers, who collectively have significant speed and skill.
The RoughRiders (13-9-1, 27 points) ended the preholiday portion of their United States Hockey League schedule by losing six of seven games and having a difficult time manufacturing goals. They play tonight at Des Moines and Saturday night play host to Waterloo.
Despite the poor play, they are still just six points out of first place in the Eastern Conference.
“Definitely, you can tell a difference in skill (between the NAHL and USHL),” Sanford said. “There are skilled guys in the NAHL, but there’s a lot more skill in the USHL, a lot more speed. There’s also a lot more tactical (play), more strategically.”
Tiffels won’t be available until mid-January or so because he is playing for his native Germany in the World Junior Championships. Maloney and Sanford are from Michigan, Von Ruden from Minnesota.
“We are looking forward to Freddy Tiffels’ arrival,” Carlson said. “He is a big, heavy player that can really skate, works, has good vision and can make plays. He will help the team in many areas.Did you catch that “big, heavy player” part? No question that’s what the coach wants to see from his new guys.