CEDAR RAPIDS — The buzzer sounded and the truck horn blared. The crowd whooped it up.
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders players stood around center ice, tapped their sticks on the ice and then raised them in the air to salute their fans. Then a song blared over the public-address system.
It was a familiar one, especially to those in the 50 to 60-year-old range: “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees.
“It’s exciting, always fun to play games that matter,” said Riders defenseman Kyle Looft, after his team’s 4-0 shutout Saturday night of Sioux City at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. “Every game matters coming down the stretch here. These are all very important games, and you’ve got to take them one at a time and worry about ourselves. We got a big two points tonight, a big six points this week. Now we’ve got to worry about taking care of our bodies and get ready for next week.”
The RoughRiders (24-24-10) won three games this week and head into the final week of the United States Hockey League regular season one standings point behind Chicago for sixth place and the final available playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Cedar Rapids has 58 to Chicago’s 59.
The Riders have two home games remaining, against Des Moines and Madison. Chicago hosts Central Illinois and plays at Central Illinois.
The Flying Aces are the worst team in the league.
“We knew we were going to have to grind it out tonight,” said Riders Coach Mark Carlson. “We played five games in the last week here. A couple of them with just nine and 10 forwards. We had some travel in there, too. Our guys found a way to get it done.”
Roman Ahcan scored on a breakaway to begin the scoring halfway through the first period. Defenseman Kyle Looft made it a 2-0 game late in the period, making it goals in back-to-back games.
Looft hadn’t scored all season prior to this weekend.
“I mean, you’ve got to get a little luck, I suppose,” he said.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Nathan Smith scored a power-play goal 10 minutes into the third period, with Graham Slaggert scoring into an open net in the final couple of minutes. Goaltender Jiri Patera made 32 saves for the shutout.
“Our defensemen played a really good game,” he said. “They helped me out a lot, didn’t let them have a lot of good chances.”