CEDAR RAPIDS — In what has been the season from hell in a lot of ways, it was only appropriate that the start of Wednesday night’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders game was delayed because of problems with the ice at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Eventually the Riders blanked Omaha, 3-0.
“Basically the ice was not up to league standards,” RoughRiders Vice President Mark Meyer said. “So for the safety of the players, we delayed the game.”
Ruts and pools of water around the rink were noticeable pregame. Referee Jim White wouldn’t allow players to begin warmups until the conditions improved.
That took repeated cuts and resurfacing from the arena’s two Zambonis. Opening faceoff didn’t occur until 7:50 p.m., roughly a half-hour later than scheduled.
“Things happen sometimes,” said Riders Coach Mark Carlson. “They got it corrected, and we were able to play hockey.”
The culprit for the poor ice conditions was the two-day World Championship ICE Racing Series held at the arena over the weekend. The RoughRiders practiced Monday and Tuesday on the arena’s adjoining Olympic-sized ice sheet while repairs were made.
“Their tires dug all the way into the cement,” Meyer said. “There needed to be repair work done, they had to build up the ice, I’m not sure how much. Then they had to shave it back down. There was paint in there. You could probably see some of that stuff. The ice just wasn’t ready for the game.”
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Black tire marks and orange paint from the show still were visible on the playing surface during the game. An orange smiley face had to be rubbed out before the game.
Cedar Rapids did play a fine game once it began. Robert Arrak, Jason Polin and Dalton Messina had goals as the RoughRiders (11-36-4) won their second in a row.
Arrak’s goal was of the power-play variety and Messina’s an empty netter. Sixteen-year-old goaltender Drew DeRidder notched his second USHL shutout, making 23 saves.
This club is 6-8 in its last 14 games, as it continues its highly improved play. The Riders have back-to-back games this weekend at Green Bay before returning home for back-to-backers against Youngstown.
“I thought it was a good effort,” Carlson said. “Our guys know we’ve still got to sharpen up and not fuel the offense of the other team. Everything they got tonight, I thought we kind of fueled it for them. We’ve got to get better in that area.
“But I thought the effort was good, the penalty killing was very good, Drew played well, we’ve been scoring some power-play goals, which is nice. It was a good win.”
There are nine games remaining in the season.
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