CEDAR RAPIDS — Sometimes you are just at the right place at the right time.
The Rimouski Oceanic did the heavy lifting, so to speak, with Nikolai Mayorov. They brought him over from Russia and gave him a very brief, one-game tryout in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
But there are specific roster regulations in that league, as there are every junior league, and they ended up letting him go. The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders pounced on the 19-year-old, and he has been an offensive force in his limited time here.
The winger went into this weekend with six goals and eight points in just seven United States Hockey League games. The Riders hosted Fargo on Friday night and host Waterloo on Saturday night.
“We were aware of him, and you can only have two imports in that league (QMJHL),” RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson said. “So it was just a situation where he became available.”
Mayorov has put up numbers whereever he has played. Last season, for instance, he had 24 goals and 42 points in 58 games for Altay Ust-Kamenogorsk, a team in Kazakhstan that plays in a mostly Russian junior league.
In the 2017-18 season, he had 49 goals and 90 points in 36 games for a Russian U18 team.
“He’s got good offensive ability, can really skate,” Carlson said. “Plays right wing with a left shot.”
Offense hasn’t been too much of an issue for Cedar Rapids going into this weekend. Its 53 goals in 12 games leads the USHL.
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But stopping opponents from scoring has been a problem and why the RoughRiders have a 6-6 record. They’d lost three in a row and five of six games going into Friday.
Cedar Rapids has given up 22 goals in its last six, no fewer than three in any of those games. Last weekend against Lincoln, the Riders scored three first-period goals for a 3-0 lead, only to cough up that lead and lose, 4-3.
“We’ve played some good hockey,” Carlson said. “We’re just going through the process of maturing and growing as a team. The facts are that we’ve been playing with four or five returners, which isn’t a lot. That’s just reality. A lot of guys are learning the league. But I think they are learning, and they are getting better. We’re getting better every week and learning what it takes to win consistently in this league.”
The team announced Thursday its captains and assistant captains. Jordan Tonelli was elected captain in a vote by his teammates, with Jack Millar, Jack O’Leary and Max Sasson the assistants.
All are second-year players. Tonelli has not played, yet, this season because of an upper-body injury incurred at the end of the preseason.
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