116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — So many close games. So many losses.
If you’re looking for reasons why the Iowa Heartlanders are seventh and last in the ECHL’s Central Division, consider their lack of success in close games, one-goal games.
Iowa is 3-7 in overtimes so far this season and 0-1 in games that went to a shootout. It is 0-2 in one-goal games decided in regulation.
And all this in its last 22 games overall. It’s played 30.
Aye, that’s tough.
“That tells you the compete and the battle that we (have),” said head coach Derek Damon. “We’re right there. It’s just fully commit to grabbing that point, grabbing that extra point, grabbing that game.”
The Heartlanders are 7-15-7-1 overall for 22 standings points. They are seven points behind sixth-place Kalamazoo, and, most importantly, 11 points behind fourth-place Toledo.
The top four teams in the division qualify for the Kelly Cup playoffs.
“We’re right in these games,” Damon said. “It’s just getting the bounce. To be honest with you, I don’t feel like we’ve gotten a lot of bounces lately. That’s going to come. Bounces come when you work that hard. We’re close.”
Close, but no cigar, in this case. Iowa beat the division-leading Indy Fuel this past Saturday at Xtream Arena, 3-1, ending a streak of eight consecutive games in which it had scored two goals or less.
The Heartlanders have 81 goals this season, which is 26th out of 28 teams in the league. The loss of top point getter and offensive catalyst Matt Murphy has been significant.
The defenseman had five goals and 17 points in 13 games for Iowa, but signed a contract with a team in Austria after being promoted a couple of times to the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild but not seeing much ice time.
“It’s a long season, you go through slumps,” Damon said. “It’s just right now, it’s happening to all the guys in that room. The positive is we put up (a lot of shots), we’re getting to the harder areas ... That’s positive because that tells you it’s close. We’re going to pop off here.”
Iowa went 1-1-1 in its three games last week against Indy. It plays three games on the road this week: Wednesday at Indy and Friday and Saturday nights at Kansas City.
The Heartlanders still have not won a road game this season.
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on 5-game win streak
Things really seem to be coming together for the RoughRiders, who swept a home-and-home weekend series against Madison. Cedar Rapids won Friday on the road, 3-2, and at home the next night, 4-0.
The Riders have won five games in a row and are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 to climb into third place in the United States Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. They are 15-10-2-1 overall for 33 standings points, just one point behind second-place Green Bay and eight behind first-place Chicago.
Goaltender Bruno Bruveris has been in net for each of the games in the win streak and allowed just seven total goals, no more than two in any game. He was the USHL Goaltender of the Week last week.
The RoughRiders have gotten contributions offensively in this stretch from many players. Defenseman Eric Pohlkamp has been especially impressive, recording three goals and six assists in his last five games.
Pohlkamp has been selected to play in the Biosteel All-American Game in Ann Arbor, Mich., on January 16. The game features the top 2023 National Hockey League draft prospects in the USHL.
Earlier in December, Pohlkamp was part of a United States team that won the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Canada and was named to the event’s all-star team. He is a Bemidji State recruit.
Cedar Rapids has another home-and-home weekend set upcoming, this time with Dubuque. Friday night’s game is in the Key City, while Saturday night’s is 7:05 at ImOn Ice.
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