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CEDAR RAPIDS — Lament the ending and the result. But don’t knock the effort these young Cedar Rapids RoughRiders put forth Saturday night in the season opener.
Defenseman Jacob Semik had a shot from the right point squeak into the net with 5:03 left in overtime for the winning goal as Dubuque rallied for a 2-1 win before 2,043 fans at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
It’s still a good, solid standings point for Cedar Rapids, which is in rebuild mode with the loss of its top 12 scorers from last season and its unquestioned number one goalie. Overall it was an evenly played game, with equal chances and shots that rang off the goal post and crossbar.
“Really the only thing I want to say about the game is that I’m really, really proud of our effort,” said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson. “We saw a ton of positives, we’ve got a ton of good things to build on. The one point is great.”
Then Carlson chose to dwell no more on the game, changing the subject to his city, which is about to be hit by its second major flood in eight years. He said he and his team will be out and about Sunday around town helping with sandbagging and whatever else needs to be done.
In 2008, Carlson, himself, was known to drive around flood-affected neighborhoods and randomly give help to whomever needed it.
“I want to talk about this city and what is happening in this city,” Carlson said. “That’s the most important thing. We are going to get our guys together here. We’re going to be out in the community tomorrow, everybody. We’ll find out where in the morning. We’ll do anything we can to help this community.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve lived here 18 years, lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. It tears your heart out to think about what they say could happen. We’re going to do everything we can to help.”
Sam Sternschein put the RoughRiders on top midway through the first period. He broke loose on a 2-on-1, odd-man rush with Zach Robbins, took a pass from Robbins and blasted a one-timer past Dubuque goaltender Jaxon Castor at the 8:50 mark.
Dubuque tied it at 11:01 of the third period. Regen Cavanagh skated into the C.R. zone on a 2-on-1 and beat goalie Zack Larocque to the stick side from about the faceoff dot.
“As a team as a whole, I think we definitely played our best game tonight,” Larocque said. “Unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. But there are definitely a lot of positives we can bring out of this game.”
Both teams had possession in the four-on-four portion of the seven-minute overtime. Dubuque eventually worked the puck to the point, where Semik let go with a shot that may or may not have deflected in off a RoughRiders player and past Larocque.
“I believe so that it was tipped,” Larocque said. “I’ll have to go back and watch it on video.”
Cedar Rapids won just one of seven games in the preseason, was outscored by a two-to-one margin and allowed more goals than any other team. But this was a good defensive effort, with Larocque — who really struggled in the preseason — looking good, making 29 stops.
Castor was just a smidge better in a 28-save performance.
“We had all four lines contributing,” Sternschein said. “Everybody was banging bodies. One point is better than nothing. Looking at last year, one point, any point you can get is huge. It’s just one game of 60. We’ll work off a good game here and keep going.”
The three newest RoughRiders didn’t even have their last names stitched on the backs of their sweaters, yet. That’s the result of just being acquired in separate trades last week.
Center Matt Hudie was acquired from Green Bay and actually was in C.R.'s starting lineup. Dalton Messina was picked up from Fargo and played a regular shift on left wing.
Czech defenseman Jakub Sirota also saw a lot of ice. He was added in a trade from Des Moines.
The Riders’ opening-night scratches were A.J. Villella, Cal Johnson, Liam Walsh and Will Schlagenhauf. They host Sioux Falls for their only game this week Friday night.
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