Minor League Sports

Top 5 memorable moments in 20 years of Cedar Rapids RoughRiders hockey

Phil Axtell holds up the Clark Cup after the RoughRiders' 5-1 victory over the Sioux City Musketeers in the fifth and final game of the United States Hockey League Clark Cup series at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Monday, May 9, 2005 in Cedar Rapids. (The Gazette)
Phil Axtell holds up the Clark Cup after the RoughRiders' 5-1 victory over the Sioux City Musketeers in the fifth and final game of the United States Hockey League Clark Cup series at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Monday, May 9, 2005 in Cedar Rapids. (The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Twenty years at the rink has produced so many memorable moments. There are at least a few that emerge each season.

Here are five of my top ones.

5. A scary injury

A mid-October 2013 game between rivals Cedar Rapids and Dubuque at The Stable turned ugly midway through the second period.

Corey Petrash of the RoughRiders and Dylan Chanter of the Fighting Saints got into a scrap in the corner behind Dubuque’s net. Chanter fell backward after taking a Petrash punch and hit the back of his helmetless head on the ice, knocking him unconscious. The crowd roared until realizing the extent of Chanter’s injury. He began convulsing and continued to do so for at least a couple of minutes, as trainers rushed to tend to him. Eventually he was taken off the ice via stretcher and to a local hospital via ambulance. The game was suspended.

Chanter spent a night in the hospital but ended up OK. He spent four years at the University of New Hampshire, with 2017-18 his final season.

4. The first one

The RoughRiders played the first three months of their 1999-2000 inaugural season on the road because the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena was not completely constructed. The team practiced daily on the rink at Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville.

Finally it came time for the home opener: Jan. 8, 2000.

 

There was tons of anticipation throughout the city for the event, which sold out (4,104 attendance). The Riders and Rochester Mustangs went back and forth throughout the game, which was tied at 3-3 through regulation and overtime. That brought up a best-of-5 shootout.

Cedar Rapids’ first two shooters were successful, but Rochester came back to tie it at 2-2. Gerry Hickey was C.R.’s fifth shooter, and he went top shelf to win the shootout and the game.

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3. Alexander the great

I wasn’t actually there for most of April 2002’s Game 2 of a first-round USHL playoff series between the Riders and Lincoln Stars. I was covering a Cedar Rapids Kernels game next door. But when I heard the game was going into overtime, I headed over to The Stable to watch.

Ended up viewing a full game.

The teams went for a league-record four overtimes before defenseman Alexander Valentin slapped a shot into the net to win it for the RoughRiders. There weren’t a whole lot of people left, but they all went crazy. Coach Mark Carlson’s response: “I’ve got a headache.”

2. Celebrating the Anderson Cup

With a chance to win the Anderson Cup for most regular-season standings points in the 2010-11 season, the RoughRiders fell behind Team USA in their finale at home, 2-0. But the final four goals went the Cedar Rapids way, including a Ryan McGrath empty netter in the final minute of a 4-2 victory.

A crowd of 3,052 stayed to watch the club hoist the Anderson Cup, which just happened to be on hand.

The Riders ended up losing to Green Bay in the playoffs, but this was still a special season.

1. Winning it all

Has to be No. 1, and it’s not even close.

Cedar Rapids and Sioux City split the first two games of the 2005 Clark Cup finals at The Stable. The RoughRiders won in overtime in Game 3 at Sioux City, only to have the Musketeers stave off elimination with an overtime win in Game 4. That brought a winner-take-all Game 5 in Cedar Rapids.

Despite having just one day to sell tickets, the Ice Arena was virtually sold out.

 

Defenseman Ray Eichenlaub scored on the power play late in the first period to put C.R. on top, and the RoughRiders went on to a 4-1 win. Goalie Alex Stalock had 24 saves and was named the series MVP.

Virtually every one of the announced crowd of 3,413 stayed around postgame to watch the celebration. Unforgettable.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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