CEDAR RAPIDS — You can play the best defense in the world, but at some point, you’ve got to score goals to win hockey games.
Those latter two things have been tough to come by lately for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, who play Friday night at Tri-City and Saturday night at Lincoln.
The Riders were shut out twice at home last weekend, by Tri-City and Fargo. Their last goal came two weeks ago in a 4-2 win over Madison.
That came into an empty net, so their “real” scoreless streak is 141 minutes and 21 seconds.
“I thought the games last weekend were two hard-fought games,” said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson. “I think anytime this time of year in this league, you’ve got to (perservere). We had some real good chances both nights. You’ve got to get to the net front, screen the goalie, get second chances, maintain time in the offensive zone.”
Cedar Rapids is 1-6 in its last seven games and has scored a total of seven goals in those games. That has to improve post-haste if the RoughRiders want to make the United States Hockey League playoffs.
They have 16 regular-season games remaining going into the weekend, a 16-21-7 record producing 39 standings points. That places them in eighth place in the nine-team Eastern Conference, six points behind Chicago for sixth place and the final available playoff spot in the division.
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“Everything depends on how the coaching staff handles it,” Carlson said. “We’ve been very positive. We like a lot of things that we’ve been doing, as far as where our game’s at. We’re upbeat, we’re enthusiastic, and we’re getting ready to play on Friday.”
On the positive side, Cedar Rapids has seemed to tighten things up defensively in the past couple of weeks. That has been an issue much of the season.
“Yeah, I thought last weekend we did,” Carlson said. “Let’s see if we can be consistent. That’s the thing.”
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