116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
We’re going to call this little weekly column “Corridor Cross-Checks,” unless you’ve got another idea. We’re open to anything.
It was a lost weekend on the road for the fledgling ECHL team.
The Heartlanders dropped consecutive games to, in order, the Cincinnati Cyclones on Thursday night (5-3), the Indy Fuel on Friday night (6-3) and Cincinnati again on Saturday night (6-1). It’s only about an hour and 45 minutes from Cincinnati to Indianapolis, if you’re wondering about the games being split in the two cities.
Iowa has dropped seven in a row, six in regulation, after a season-opening 7-4 win over Kansas City a couple of weeks ago that was the first regular-season game in franchise history and at Xtream Arena. The Heartlanders have allowed a league-high 45 goals in eight games, no less than four in any game.
Hard to win that way.
“It doesn’t matter whether we’re playing Wheeling, or whether it’s (whoever),” Heartlanders Coach Gerry Fleming said recently. “If you’re going to turn the puck over, you’re going to make it a long night for yourself. You’ve got to manage the puck, you’ve got to execute plays.”
Iowa has allowed 289 shots on goal, the most in the ECHL. The club’s two goaltenders (Hunter Jones and Trevin Kozlowski) have combined for a 5.61 goals against average and .847 save percentage, which, obviously, ranks last in the league.
“These guys are getting paid to play,” Fleming said. “You’ve got to come out, you’ve got to play your ‘A’ game, regardless of who you are playing. You can’t let the other team dictate pace and play. You can’t dip your toe in the water. You’ve got to dive right in, you’ve got to be committed. You’ve got to play hockey. You’ve got to be focused.”
Iowa has had a lot of roster turnover in the first month, with 28 players dressing for games, but that’s part of the league. It made its first trade ever last week, acquiring forward Jonathan Desbiens from the Maine Mariners for future considerations.
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
The United States Hockey League team is 5-6 after splitting a home-and-home weekend series with the Des Moines Buccaneers. Both scores were 5-3, with the RoughRiders scoring four unanswered goals in the third period to win Friday night’s game in Urbandale.
The Riders have rebounded from a 1-4 start, winning four of their last six.
Cole Burtch has been awesome since being acquired in a trade with the Youngstown Phantoms, picking up six goals and four assists in seven games with C.R., and posting a plus-minus rating of plus-four.
First-year player Grant Ahcan has four goals and four assists in 11 games for the RoughRiders. He is the younger brother of former Riders Jack and Roman Ahcan.
Jack Ahcan made his NHL debut last season with the Boston Bruins and is considered one of their top prospects. Speaking of NHL prospects, forward Robert Flinton scored his first USHL goal in Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to Des Moines.
He was a seventh-round draft pick this past summer of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Goaltender Bruno Bruveris is out with an injury and did not dress for Saturday’s home game against Des Moines, with Cedar Rapids bringing in Niko Goich from the NAHL’s Austin Bruins to serve as emergency backup to Connor Hasley.
All kinds of opportunities to watch both clubs this coming weekend.
The RoughRiders host the Green Bay Gamblers on both Friday and Saturday nights (7:05 opening faceoff) at the ImOn Ice Arena. Friday night is Military Appreciation Night, with all service members and veterans getting a complimentary ticket. Saturday night is Mental Health Awareness Night, with jerseys being auctioned to benefit Foundation 2.
The Heartlanders, meanwhile, have a home game Friday night (7 p.m. opening faceoff) against the Indy Fuel, then host the Kalamazoo Wings at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Indy is the ECHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, Kalamazoo the league’s affiliate for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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