New C.R. RoughRiders Co-President Doug Miller settling in, says club is committed to staying at Ice Arena

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Their lease is up at the end of this coming season. A brand new arena eventually is being built 25 miles down the road in Coralville.

But the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are going to remain the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

New Co-President Doug Miller said Tuesday the organization is working on a lease extension with the city that will keep the United States Hockey club at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena for the forseeable future. Extension talks have gone positively.

“Absolutely,” Miller said, when asked if something eventually will get done. “We’re not going anywhere.”

Miller is a boon for the RoughRiders, as he has extensive USHL experience: 12 years running the Waterloo Black Hawks and one with the Des Moines Buccaneers. He said he was surprised when he got a phone call last spring from RoughRiders owner Tony Sdao, asking if he’d be interesting in coming to Cedar Rapids.

The answer was a resounding ‘Yes.’ Miller replaces Mark Meyer, who left the club for a job in town outside of hockey.

“I’ve known Tony and (wife) Jan for a lot of years, since they bought the team,” Miller said. “And, of course, I’ve known (Coach/General Manager/Co-President) Mark Carlson for as long as I can remember. He’s been a great guy, he and (wife) Tammy are wonderful people. So it was a very simple decision to make to come here.

“I think it’s gone very well. Very, very well. This is something that wasn’t brand new to me, being in Waterloo for so long. I was pretty familiar with this organization and how they ran things before. There are a lot of things I am learning about the community and the team and the organization, but I think it’s going spectacularly. The reception I’ve gotten ... has been good.”

Miller said fans should expect changes to the “fan experience” this coming season. He is determined to make the Ice Arena a “premier destination to enjoy an evening out.”

He was asked about the condition of the Arena, which is nearing 20 years old and in need of repairs and upgrades, according to many.

“Yes, it’s showing its age,” he said. “It’s still a beautiful facility that has been well taken care of by the city ... We have everything we need here, but not everything that we want.”

The RoughRiders announced their full 2017-18 schedule Tuesday. The regular-season opener is Friday, Oct. 6, at Green Bay, the home opener Saturday, Oct. 14 against the Omaha Lancers.

First puck will drop at 7:05 that night.

In other RoughRiders news, associate head coach Francis Anzalone has left the club to become vice president of Total Package Hockey’s newly established Center of Excellence Hub. TPH is a hockey service provider, which aims to help youth players move on to junior, college and professional hockey.

Anzalone was with the RoughRiders as assistant coach between 2011 and 2013 and rejoined the organization in May as associate head coach.

“The RoughRiders organization is very happy for Francis,” said Carlson. “This is a special position working with TPH, Total Package Hockey. TPH is a top hockey service provider that has helped develop quality hockey players on and off the ice for over a decade. We wish Francis all the best in the next step in his career, he will do a tremendous job with TPH.”

The United States Hockey League announced last week that all 17 teams will play at the USHL Fall Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa., in the fall. A complete schedule for the Fall Classic, which runs Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, will be announced at a later date.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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