CEDAR RAPIDS – When the opposing team pumps more shots on goal in the third period than you have the entire night, no, you’re not going to win any hockey games. You’re probably not going to come close.
Let’s just say the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders were completely outplayed the final 20 minutes of a 6-2 loss Saturday night to the Waterloo Black Hawks.
The Riders scored the first two goals but gave up the final six, including three in a third period absolutely dominated by the neighbors to the north. Waterloo finished the period with a staggering 18-2 shots edge, and it was 37-15 for the game.
Says it all, right there.
“I’m a pretty optimistic, positive person,” said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson, when asked if he could take anything good from this one. “But out of this particular game, no.”
Then he immediately caught himself.
“There will be some positives from it,” he insisted. “We’ve got to get some things straightened out, as a coaching staff and as a team. There will be positives that come out of this in the end.”
The RoughRiders returned from holiday break with a nice little 5-4 victory Friday night at Des Moines. The goals kept coming early here, as Dylan Steman and Mitch Maloney scored seven minutes apart in the first period for a 2-0 lead.
Steman must have some sort of baseball background, because he showed great hand-eye coordination on his goal. Defenseman Mark Auk wristed a harmless-looking shot from straight away from just inside the blue line, with Steman tipping it (his stick at waist level) over Waterloo goaltender Cal Petersen.
Maloney is one of four guys Carlson traded for over break, seeking more grit, toughness and size for his team. He had an assist Friday night and recorded his first USHL goal at the 10:23 mark, doing what he was brought in to do, crashing the net and jamming home a rebound.
Judd Peterson powered his way down left wing, beating his check for a good original shot that banged off Petersen’s pads and went directly to Maloney.
But the momentum of the game seemed to turn late in the first period on a soft goal by Waterloo’s Patrick Russell. The right winger fluttered a shot near the boards and outside the faceoff circle that RoughRiders goalie Chris Birdsall whiffed on trying to catch.
Russell tied things at 2-2 early in the second period on a rush down the left side in which he eased past Cedar Rapids Charlie Curti along the boards and went in on goal alone. Birdsall’s night concluded (at least temporarily) at 9:03 of the second when he let another innocuous-looking shot get over his glove, this one from John Wiitala along the boards.
Carlson pulled him in favor of Danny Tirone, but brought him back late in the third period.
“That’s no excuse,” Carlson said of the soft goals. ”We’ve got to continue to battle and find a way to get the job done.”
“We lacked maintaining pressure with the way we played, just trying to get more goals,” said Auk. “We relaxed, I thought. We need to step on their throat. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Zach Sanford scored on the power play 6:30 into the third for a two-goal spread, then Peter Krieger added two more goals for Waterloo (20-5-1, 41 points). Not exactly what most of the 3,359 fans on hand at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena wanted to see.
“They got a two-goal lead and some energy, and we got deflated. That was it,” Carlson said. “That was the reason (for the third period).”
“I thought their forecheck was pretty good,” Auk said. “They were closing in on our forwards pretty well, taking away the boards.”
Cedar Rapids (14-10-1, 29 points) plays New Year’s Eve night at Green Bay, then has back-to-back games at Indiana this coming weekend.
“We just need to play better hockey, be more consistent,” Carlson said.
Here is the official gamesheet:
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