CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders dressed 12 forwards for Saturday night’s game against Des Moines. That was the first time that had happened in awhile.
Of course, they still played with 18 skaters, which is one under the limit.
Injuries are a part of the deal in hockey. They are going to happen.
But these RoughRiders have been anhilated in that department this USHL season. It’s part of the reason they’ve been struggling.
It’s 12 losses in 14 games for the Riders after Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Des Moines at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Benito Posa scored an OT winner Friday night at Des Moines and did exactly the same here, beating goalie Derek Mullahy top left corner from the circle two minutes into the three-on-three extra session.
Friday night’s final also was 3-2. Posa, who has played for five USHL teams, has seven goals this season, three in the last two games against C.R., two in overtime.
“I thought we played an awful lot of good hockey tonight,” said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson. “The facts are we are down a ton of guys. I thought our guys battled their tails off. You’ve got to earn the two points (though). You have to earn it. I thought at times we just lost the focus on some plays last night and tonight.
“At the same time, every (standings) point is huge, and we did get two points this weekend. We’ll take them.”
It’s not just that Cedar Rapids (12-17-3, 27 points) has four guys out for the season, it’s who they are. They include two NHL draft picks (defenseman Will Francis and goaltender Shamil Shmakov) and a potential 2020 NHL draft pick in defenseman Ben Meehan).
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Meehan was hurt just last weekend. Shmakov was recently diagnosed with a broken bone in his back, which he had been trying to play through.
It’s so absurd, the Riders traded with Tri-City for forward Joe Molenaar in Novemember. He played six games and then incurred a season-ending injury and landed on IR (Injured Reserve).
Top forward Justin Hryckowian has missed 16 straight games with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Michael Suda also has missed an extended time with the same affliction.
In Friday night’s game at Des Moines, all those guys were out, as was forward Michael Posma, who was serving a one-game league suspension for a staged fight in a game last weekend against Muskegon. Forward Yegor Klavdiev and Mullahy were sick and unavailable.
Mullahy and Posma were available Saturday night. This is the third consecutive season that Cedar Rapids will not have played even one single game with the lineup it intended having.
“It all depends on how the coaching staff handles it,” Carlson said. “And how you handle it collectively as a staff and the players. You have to be positive. It’s opportunities for guys, You just find a way to keep working. We have played some pretty good hockey here for the situation we’re in, no doubt. We’ve got to keep plugging, keep getting better.
“We like our team.”
Posa and Logan Anderson had goals to put Des Moines on top, 2-0, early in the second period here. Nikolai Mayorov’s goal two minutes after Anderson’s brought the RoughRiders back into it and got a bajillion teddy bears tossed onto the ice, with this being the club’s annual Teddy Bear Toss Night.
Newcomer Zach Faremouth tied the game with 6:31 left in the second, finishing off a great goal-mouth feed from teammate Grant Silianoff. Faremouth was acquired in a trade this past week from Fargo.
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Des Moines had most of the OT possession. Posa won a puck battled along the boards, skated into the circle and blistered his winner.
The RoughRiders play a pair of roadies next week at Muskegon.
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