116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DUBUQUE - The fire-alarm lights at Mystique Ice Center kept flashing during the third period Tuesday night.
On and off, they'd go. On and off.
It wasn't anything serious, no emergency or anything. For the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, on the other hand, serious and emergency might fit.
They continue to give up way too many goals, six of them here in a 6-3 loss to the Dubuque Fighting Saints in Game 1 of this United States Hockey League playoff series. Things absolutely must get better defensively for this club to advance, let alone win a game.
Game 2 of this best-of-five set is Friday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
'I just thought we made some foolish mistakes,” said a terse RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson.
'We have a couple of lapses that we need to get taken care of,” said RoughRiders winger Erik Foley. 'I think it's correctable. I think the stuff we're doing (wrong) is correctable. We just need to keep working at it.”
Cedar Rapids was outplayed a lot of the first period but still got the game's first goal when Andrew Gaus (a former Fighting Saint) hopped on a rebound of a Joe Wegwerth original shot at the 14:19 mark. But any thoughts of taking a lead into the first-period break vanished quickly.
William Lagesson pinched in from his left defense spot, took a brilliant cross-ice feed from teammate Robby Jackson in the faceoff circle and roofed a shot past Cedar Rapids goalie Ryan Larkin to tie it 1:30 later. Then with just 9.7 seconds left in the period, Dubuque's Jacob Benson rushed in from the left side, took a shot that was blocked by a C.R. defender but deflected right back to him for a fortuitous rebound goal.
'I think that go-ahead goal they had played a big part in this game,” Foley said. 'It kind of took a little bit out of us. But in this league, you've got to be able to fight back from deficits. There's nothing you can do about it. You've just got to fight back.”
Key play number two came late in the second period when Dylan Gambrell sprung loose for a short-handed backhand breakaway goal. That came seconds after Larkin had stoned Dubuque's Mitchell Smith on another short-hand break.
Willie Knierim made it a 4-1 game with a neat tip of a Hayden Shaw point shot two minutes after that, and that was all she wrote. The teams then traded goals: Jiri Fronk and Foley scoring for Cedar Rapids, Shaw and Brett Boeing for Dubuque.
Shaw's goal came on a two-on-one break. Back to that mistakes thing for Cedar Rapids.
'We kind of weathered the storm early there,” Gaus said. 'After that, I thought it was a really even game. I thought we actually played pretty well for a lot of the game. We just made stupid mental mistakes, and that led to almost every single one of their goals. Going into Game 2, we really need to sharpen up on some small details. Just play with some more energy and passion, and we'll be fine.”
In their last seven games, the RoughRiders have given up 32 goals. The math there says that's 4.5 per game.
It has become a vicious cycle. Make a mistake, and it ends up in the back of your net.
'We need to be smarter,” Carlson said. 'It's a five-game series. Let's get ready for the next one. It's that simple.”
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