116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — There are 13 games remaining in the regular season. Will 13 be an unlucky or lucky number for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Iowa Heartlanders?
Going into this week, the RoughRiders are tied for the final available playoff spot in the United States Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. The Heartlanders are five standings points from a postseason position in the ECHL’s Central Division.
Cedar Rapids has a 21-25-2-1 record for 45 standings points, which places it in sixth place in the USHL’s East. Green Bay also has 45 points, though the RoughRiders have a game in hand.
The top six teams in each conference qualify. Look out for Team USA, which is eighth in the Eastern Conference with 43 standings points, though it has four games in hand on Cedar Rapids and five on Green Bay.
The RoughRiders lost two of three games this past weekend in Michigan against Team USA (its formal name is the United States National Team Development Program), beating the younger U17 team but losing twice to the U18s.
The U17s come to Cedar Rapids this weekend for three games Friday, Saturday and Sunday at ImOn Ice, a series that will be playoff crucial.
The Heartlanders, meanwhile, have a 26-27-5-1 record for 60 standings points. That places them in sixth place in the seven-team Central Division, two points behind fifth-place Kalamazoo and five points behind fourth-place Cincinnati.
The top four teams in each division qualify for the playoffs.
A seven-game win streak put Iowa into the unlikely position where it could realistically think about the postseason after spending most of its inaugural season in last place in the division. The Heartlanders are coming off a weekend set in which they lost twice at Kalamazoo.
They did squeak out a standings point this past Saturday night, scoring late in regulation to force overtime, eventually losing, 5-4.
The remaining schedule
All in all, it’s favorable for the RoughRiders.
Nine of the final 13 games are at home. The four roadies are close in proximity: one at Madison, two at Dubuque and one at Des Moines.
The RoughRiders have incredible home-road splits this season. They are 16-4-1-1 at home, second best in the entire USHL, outscoring opponents by 23 goals.
On the road, they are 5-21-1-0 (second worst in the entire USHL) and have been outscored by 50 goals.
The Heartlanders play six of their remaining 13 games at home. That includes three in a row this week: Wednesday against Fort Wayne and biggies Friday and Saturday against Cincinnati.
The club also plays Cincinnati twice more on the road. It ends the season with a long, three-game road trip to Texas to take on the Allen Americans.
If you’re curious about attendance, the RoughRiders are averaging 1,967 fans in 22 home dates, which ranks sixth in the USHL. The Heartlanders are averaging 1,885 fans in 30 home dates, which ranks 25th out of 27 teams in the ECHL.
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