116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — What do you tell your hockey club after it gets beat, 6-0, in the first game of a best-of-3 United States Hockey League playoff series Monday night?
“I think the most important thing is it’s a series,” Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson said, after the Muskegon Lumberjacks hung a half-dozen on his team in a convincing win in Michigan. “We’ve already put this behind us and are looking forward to tomorrow. We did some things well in the game, we’ve got some things we’ve got to improve on. So you put it behind you and focus on tomorrow.”
Tomorrow (Tuesday night) could be the last game of the season for the RoughRiders if they simply don’t play better. If they don’t score again, if they don’t stay out of the penalty box.
Those were issues in Game 1.
Owen Mehlenbacher had a pair of goals, defenseman Noah Ellis (an Urbandale native) a goal and two assists as Muskegon rolled. Goaltender Chase Clark had 31 saves for the shutout in net for the Lumberjacks, who were 3-for-4 on the power play.
Cedar Rapids, meanwhile, went 0-for-6. The teams played a tight first period, with Muskegon leading, 1-0, but the Lumberjacks put the game away with three goals in the second period.
Connor Hasley came on to relieve starting goaltender Bruno Bruveris for the third period. Muskegon outshot Cedar Rapids in the game, 40-31, and that was with the Riders owning the shots edge in the third period.
“I thought they had a couple of seeing-eye shots,” Carlson said. “Then we got into a little penalty trouble. That was pretty much the story.”
Carlson was asked if his club definitely needed improvement on its special teams.
“I would say penalty killing, no,” he said. “I would say (not) taking penalties, yes.”
Muskegon moved to 4-0 at home this season against the RoughRiders, who have been among the worst road teams in the USHL all season and among the best home teams. Cedar Rapids is now 6-24-1-1 on the road this season and 23-6-1-1 at home.
That’s an incredible inverse. Unfortunately, the Riders don’t play any game at ImOn Ice this series.
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