CEDAR RAPIDS — One bad minute of hockey spoiled Saturday night for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. One really bad minute of hockey.
The Chicago Steel scored three goals in 54 seconds early in the third period to rally for a 4-3 win at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. All three of those goals came 4-on-4.
“You’ve got to play smart hockey,” RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson said.
Carlson lamented two of the three goals in the key sequence coming on odd-man rushes. Mathieu De St. Phalle actually scored the first one on a breakaway.
Defenseman Jimmy Dowd tied it on a backhander to cap off what seemed to be an innocuous play just 27 seconds later. Erik Middendorf scored just 27 seconds after that with a wrist shot from the circle top right corner.
RoughRiders goalie Derek Mullahy was bowled over and into his own net in a collision just prior to De St. Phalle’s goal and stayed on the ice for a bit. But Carlson said he thought Mullahy was fine, and that did not play a factor in the three lightning-quick Chicago goals.
Michael Posma, Nikolai Mayorov and Robby Newton had goals in the back half of the first period to give Cedar Rapids a 3-1 lead. The Riders had a solid second period as well.
After the Steel flurry, Cedar Rapids had back-to-back power plays but could not generate the tying goal. Max Sasson took a head contact penalty with 2:01 left, with Chicago keeping the puck in the RoughRiders zone pretty much those final two minutes, which did not allow Mullahy to be pulled for an extra attacker.
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This was a fifth consecutive loss for the Riders (10-11-1, 21 standings points), all to Chicago and Waterloo, the top two teams in the United States Hockey League. They play a pair of road games next weekend to close out the pre-holiday portion of the schedule, returning to action at home Dec. 27 and 28 against Dubuque. “I thought we played a lot of good hockey tonight,” Carlson said. “I was really happy with the way that we played. But at this level, if you give up odd-man rushes, you’re going to have a hard time winning.”
Both teams were short handed in this one. Chicago has five players participating in the international World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Canada to Cedar Rapids’ three.
The Riders also were without top forwards Justin Hryckowian (injury) and Jordan Tonelli (illness). Chicago head coach Greg Moore was named to be head coach this past week of the Toronto Marlies of the professional American Hockey League, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ top farm team.
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