Carlson will stay with RoughRiders

Mark Carlson - Will stay in Cedar Rapids
Mark Carlson - Will stay in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS - He couldn't have left after 13 seasons. That would have been unlucky, right?

Well, no worries about that, as it turns out. Mark Carlson said Friday night he will stay head coach/general manager of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

Carlson was a serious candidate to become head coach at the University of Massachusetts and visited the Amherst campus earlier this week. In the end, he decided to remain with a junior hockey program he literally built from scratch and that has become among the elite in a United States Hockey League that continues to see its profile grow.

Carlson is the only Coach/GM the RoughRiders have had since moving to town from Mason City for the 1999-2000 season. He and his wife, Tammy, also became part owners of the franchise three years ago.

"I went out and visited (UMass)," Carlson said. "It is a very nice place, a great campus, great facilities, a terrific athletic director and (associate) athletic director. But I love Cedar Rapids and our ownership and our community and our fans. This is the best junior hockey league in North America, and I want to be here."

Carlson has won over 400 games in Cedar Rapids. That includes the 2005 Clark Cup championship and 2005 and 2011 Anderson Cup for most regular-season points in the USHL.

Over 120 of his players have received Division I college hockey scholarships, 21 have been selected in the National Hockey League draft and 10 have played in the NHL. Former Riders defenseman Alec Martinez won the Stanley Cup this past season with the Los Angeles Kings, as did Kings scout Mark Mullen, a former assistant coach for Carlson.

UMass certainly must have been appealing for the coach, however. He is from the East Coast, played collegiately at Massachusetts-Lowell and was an assistant coach there and at Northeastern in Boston.