CEDAR RAPIDS – The leader in the clubhouse after the third round is Jason Polin.
Aidan McDonough and Liam Walsh are four shots back, Nathan Smith five. Grant Silianoff is seven off the pace and needs a blistering back nine.
Excuse the mixed sports metaphors here. The discussion is really about hockey, centering on the leading goalscorer for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at the end of the season.
The top guys almost all scored Friday night in a 6-0 win over the United States National Team Development Program’s U-17 team at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
In order, it was Silianoff and Walsh in the first period, McDonough and Polin in the second. Polin has 22 this season, Walsh and McDonough 18 each and Silianoff 15.
Smith has 17, leading the Riders in points with 46. He’ll win that race going away.
“Obviously, it’s always an honor to lead a team in goals,” Polin said. “But at this point, I just want to go as far as possible with this team. It’s nice to score goals, but I just want to do my part, have the team win and go as far as we can.”
McDonough actually can brag a little because his goal total has come in fewer games than his teammates. He missed time with an upper-body injury.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t really know (the goal totals),” McDonough said. “I don’t think about that. We’re just focused on getting Ws. That’s what we care about.”
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Cedar Rapids has nine regular-season encounters remaining, including another one with Team USA's younger team Saturday night.
By the way, defenseman Mitchell Miller and forward Jerry Harding also had goals in the third period for Cedar Rapids (29-18-4, 62 standings points). Cedar Rapids moved into a second-place tie with Chicago in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.
The top two teams in each division will get a first-round playoff bye.
Goaltender Blake Pietila pitched his third shutout of the season. There goes those mixed sports metaphors again.
Pietila only had to make nine saves. Cedar Rapids outshot Team USA by a whopping 37-9 margin.
“We had a big emphasis all week on playing our game,” McDonough said. “Stick to what we know. I think tonight we worked hard, got pucks behind their ‘D’ and competed. They’re a great team, and we know we still have a lot of work to do.”
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Polin said. “We still have a lot of things to get better at. That’s what we’re going to look at for tomorrow. We’re looking forward to tomorrow night. This was a good win, but we’ve got to be better.”
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