CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s customary to ask Cedar Rapids RoughRiders players after whom they pattern their individual games.
It’s almost always a NHL guy. That’s only natural.
But when the question was posed to first-year winger Aidan McDonough the other day, he threw you a curveball. Or a knuckle-puck, in this case.
“Erik Foley,” McDonough replied. “He’s a big, strong kid, can score goals and has a hard shot.”
Foley isn’t an NHL guy. He’s in the minor leagues with the St. Louis Blues organization, though out right now with a concussion received in the preseason.
But he scored 27 goals for the RoughRiders in the 2014-15 season before heading to Providence College. He’s from the Boston surburbs, like McDonough, and had the same billet family here that McDonough has now.
“I don’t know him, but I’ve met him,” McDonough said. “He’s a really nice guy ... Someone to look up to.”
Like Foley, McDonough is a power forward with good size (6-foot-3 and 190 pounds). He had four goals last weekend for the Riders, including a hat trick in a win over Waterloo.
Cedar Rapids plays Friday night at Des Moines and Saturday afternoon at Tri-City.
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“He went to the net. I think that was the most important thing,” RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson said. “He got inside the scoring area, and he’s got a pretty good release.”
“I think that was just a case of the team playing extremely well,” McDonough said. “We kind of had a tough week leading up to that. I think for us that was such a big win. We kind of needed that. We kind of got some puck luck and definitely earned that win, for sure.”
McDonough, 19, missed a large portion of the preseason and the first handful of games in the regular season because of an injury. He has six goals and an assist in 13 games for Cedar Rapids.
He will go back home for college, having committed to Northeastern University in Boston. He said having family and friends being able to watch him play was important.
McDonough came to the RoughRiders from Thayer Academy prep school in the Boston area, where he played with Jay O’Brien, a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers this past summer. He and former RoughRiders forward Andrew Gaus took part over the summer in Pittsburgh Penguins prospect development camp.
“That was awesome,” he said. “It was obviously an honor to be picked to go there and test myself against good competition. I just tried to soak everything in. Just have fun and try my best out there.
“The (NHL) draft was over at that point. Everybody wants to get drafted, get picked, but that didn’t happen. I’m OK with that. So I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I said to myself ‘I got chosen here. I’m just going to go out and do my best.’ I think that was probably one of the best times I’ve played because I didn’t feel any pressure.”
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