CEDAR RAPIDS — The “Daily Report” on the United States Hockey League’s website is a statistical treasure.
Virtually anything you want to know about how league teams are performing in particular areas is there. For better or worse.
When it comes to their play in the second period, it definitely has been worse for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. League worst.
The Riders went into their game Friday night at home against Green Bay outscoring opponents in both the first and third periods. Cedar Rapids has scored 11 more goals than its opponent in the first, which is pretty good.
But, oh, that second period. The RoughRiders are a minus-16 as the season moves toward its two-week holiday break.
Green Bay beat Cedar Rapids, 2-1, in a shootout, though the Gamblers did not score in the second. Andrei Bakanov had C.R.’s lone goal in regulation and in the shootout, which Green Bay won, 2-1.
“I have noticed it, and we’ve addressed it,” RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson said. “I really think it’s a matter of growing up as a team. Understanding that the games are 60 minutes long, maybe 65 minutes, plus a shootout. It is extremely important to be dialed in for the entire game. We have talked about that with our guys.”
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Carlson agreed that the first-period goal totals are a sign that his club is, more often than not, ready to go for games. The virtual push in the third (Cedar Rapids has scored 25 goals and allowed 23) isn’t a bad thing.
But the 35-19 goal deficit in the second period is a sign the RoughRiders, for whatever reason, hit a lull in the middle of games. That’s one reason they went into the weekend 10-10-2, their 22 standings points placing them in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Cedar Rapids plays Saturday night at Waterloo.
“I know the stats are what they are, and it will get corrected,” Carlson said. “But I’m not a big believer in some teams are good in some periods, some teams are good at home, some teams are good on the road, that kind of thing. You’ve got to be good all the time. We certainly feel like we will do that moving forward.”
The Riders continue to play shorthanded because of injuries and having four guys off playing international tournaments for their respective countries. Forward Grant Silianoff, defenseman Mitchell Miller and goalie Blake Pietila are on a United States team playing at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Canada, while defenseman Dmitri Deryabin is representing Belarus at the World Junior Championships Group A in Germany.
Forwards Marek Valach and Chase Hamstad are on injured reserve with upper-body injuries. At some point this weekend, key second-year defenseman Kyle Looft is expected to play, which will be a boost.
To help offset the losses, the RoughRiders have brought in three new players: goaltender Brett Miller, defenseman Cooper Jones and forward Jack Brackett. Jones is a very interesting story, a Massachusetts native who played three years of Major Junior hockey in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as well as three games this fall in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
There is a chance Jones sticks with the club even when everyone returns and is available.
“We wanted to bring in good players, and we think we did that,” Carlson said. “With nine guys missing, it’s a great opportunity for everybody. The new guys we had come in, the players that have been here all year, it is just a really good opportunity to get out and prove that you can be depended on and that you can make an impact on the game. I just think there are a lot of positives there.
“We certainly feel we can go out and win with this group.”
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