CEDAR RAPIDS – Freddy can fly.
And Saturday night, Frederik Tiffels flew, then flung a shot that gave the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders a 2-1 overtime win over the Indiana Ice before a season-high 3,750 fans at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
On a team full of fast skaters, Tiffels might be the fastest. At least he's in the conversation.
Late in the four-on-four extra session, he took a long pass from defenseman Charlie Curti that sprung him free down the left side for a two-on-one break. Skating through the faceoff circle, he let go with a wrister at the dot that beat goaltender Jason Pawloski over his shoulder on the short side.
“Charlie threw a saucer (pass) to me,” Tiffels said. “I think it was two-on-one. Normally on two-on-ones, I pass. But this time I thought ‘I’m going to shoot.’ It went in.”
“I just saw him, head down, then look up, take a shot. It goes in, and it just feels great,” said Riders goalie Chris Birdsall.
Tiffels has been a revelation for the Riders (20-14-1, 41 points) since being acquired in a trade from the Fargo Force. The 18-year-old from Koln, Germany, also assisted on Judd Peterson’s game-tying goal midway through the third period and has seven points in six games in the green and black.
“I just love it here,” Tiffels said. “People here are very nice.”
The RoughRiders were blasted Friday night at Dubuque, 6-1, but played the Eastern Conference leader much better defensively. This was a tight-checking game in which the referee consistently let things go.
That's acceptable when it’s consistent.
It looked as if it’d be scoreless headed to the final period, but Indiana changed that on a Jason Salvaggio goal with 1:55 left in the second. Riders defenseman Nathan Widman couldn’t keep a puck in at his blueline on the left side, which created an Ice odd-man rush.
Peterson tied it with 9:28 left in regulation, taking a pass and skating one-on-one down the right side. He power moved toward the net and let go with a shot that (a la Tiffels) beat Pawloski over his shoulder, going into the top corner of the net.
The overtime was an absolute thrill, with both teams having great chances to end it before Tiffels finally did. In fact, Indiana’s Tyler Pham hit the right goal post with a shot from the slot that had Birdsall beaten.
Birdsall was stellar, by the way, in his first start in 11 games, making 29 saves, including some clutch beauties. Danny Tirone had been on a roll, which was the reason for Birdsall's inactivity lately, though he spelled Tirone the last half of Friday's game.
“Coach has been telling me to keep going hard, keep working hard,” Birdsall said. “Just keeping me in shape. I thought the whole team did really well tonight. A lot of guys helped us out. We put up the two goals, played well defensively. Did everything well.”
The Riders host Des Moines on Wednesday night, play Friday night at Sioux Falls, then host Green Bay the following night. Indiana still leads them by 11 points in the division.
Here is the official gamesheet: