116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – The plan was to honor him by having him substitute for one of his guys as player of the game, throwing a couple of t-shirts into the crowd.
If you know anything about Mark Carlson, you knew that was never going to happen.
The only head coach and general manager in the 16-year history of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders nixed that idea in a hurry after his team beat Sioux Falls, 4-2, Saturday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. He wasn't even present on the ice when it was announced over the PA this was his 500th-career regular-season victory.
'He is the best coach I've ever had,” said RoughRiders co-captain Andrew Oglevie, who has played for Carlson for four years. 'He is a very humble, direct person. He will tell you what you don't want to hear at times, but that makes you better in the end. He has taught me a lot of parts of hockey that I didn't know coming here. I give a lot of credit to him for the player I've become.”
There are a ton of guys who could say the same thing. Carlson is the fifth coach in United States Hockey League history to hit the coveted 500 mark, compiling a 500-319-87 record, one Clark Cup championship and two Anderson Cup titles for most regular-season team standings points.
Waterloo's P.K. O'Handley is the all-time USHL leader with 550 wins and counting.
'For me, I've been real fortunate to be here since day one,” Carlson said. 'I look at it as the organization's 500th win, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders' 500th win. To be a part of that is pretty cool.”
Carlson and his wife, Tammy, are part owners of the franchise. Fellow owner Tony Sdao was front and center in a raucous postgame locker-room celebration.
At its conclusion, the coach was given a small card of a 'brick” that he inserted onto a chart in the dressing room. It's normally a player's ceremony.
The chart is titled 'Protect This House,” with a brick added every time the RoughRiders win a home game. The players surrounded Carlson and everyone whooped it up as he kneeled and added his brick.
'Five-hundred wins is quite an accomplishment,” said RoughRiders President Jeff Jauch. 'It just goes to show how much he loves this community, as long as he has been here, and how much he means to this hockey club. He has done an outstanding job. You can't say enough good things about Mark Carlson.”
Carlson is a New Jersey native who took the RoughRiders' job after being a college assistant at Northeastern University and Massacusetts-Lowell, his alma mater. Despite overtures from college and professional teams over the years, he has remained with a program he literally built from scratch.
He has sent countless players on to college and professional hockey, and has coached 13 guys who have played in the National Hockey League. That includes defenseman Alec Martinez, who had the overtime Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the Los Angeles Kings last season.
'He expects a lot,” Oglevie said. 'He doesn't accept mediocrity when it comes to how hard you work and things like that. He definitely expects a lot of you, and you'll know it if you don't give him what he wants.”
'You don't win hockey games without good people, good players, good assistant coaches, great owners. I've been fortunate enough to be around all those people,” Carlson said. 'I don't think you ever think you'd be lucky enough to be in a spot like this for that long. But I got here from the East Coast and liked it right away. It's a great city with great people and a first-class facility. I feel fortunate to be a part of this.”
The RoughRiders (7-1) got goals from Zach Court, Ross Colton and Erik Foley (two) to win. Ben Blacker continued to be outstanding in net, making 28 saves, including a couple of crucial ones in the final 10 seconds, keeping his pads on the ice as a pair of Sioux Falls players poked at a loose puck at the side of the net.
'I've been with Coach a long time, so it's special to be here and get the win for him tonight,” Oglevie said. 'To celebrate as we should have.”
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