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RoughRiders Crush Dubuque

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CEDAR RAPIDS Dubuque learned Saturday night that you can't beat the Gold Medal Gang when they're really going.

That would be goaltender Chris Birdsall, defenseman Clark Kuster and winger Andrew Oglevie, all of whom played prominent roles in the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders' 4-1 win before 2,974 fans at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

Birdsall, Kuster and Oglevie just returned Monday to Cedar Rapids after spending two weeks away from the club, winning gold medals as part of a United States team that captured the World Junior 'A' Challenge international tournament in Nova Scotia. Oglevie had a goal and Kuster an assist in the championship game.

"I had a good time," Birdsall said. "The level of play there was really good. All the players on our team were really good."

Kuster and Oglevie scored goals to guide the RoughRiders (11-3-1, 23 points) to their second win in five days over their rivals from the river. Cedar Rapids won the completion of a suspended game in a shootout Tuesday night at The Stable.

"No, don't write that," Kuster said of the Gold Medal Gang. "It's all about this team now. It's all about the RoughRiders."

It was a six-point week for the Riders, who jumped into second place alone in the United States Hockey League's Eastern Division. They are two points in back of Team USA, with three games in hand.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's way too early to be thinking about that stuff. But the way this team has survived and thrived despite a travel-crazy early part of the schedule is encouraging.

Dubuque's Karson Kuhlman opened the scoring with a rebound goal at 6:26 of the first period, but that was it against Birdsall, who was sharp in winning his second game in as many nights.

Corey Petrash took a great goal-mouth feed from Nick Master to score a power-play goal that tied things at 8:34 of the first. Kuster scored a "dirty goal" three minutes later, capping off great work from he, Andrew Poturalski and Jack Rowe.

Outstanding individual skill from Alec Marsh led to Oglevie's goal 6:35 into the second period. Marsh stick-handled his way around and through a Dubuque defenseman, then fed Oglevie cross ice for one pretty goal. Oglevie did not play the third period because of injury, however.

Dubuque had the better of the initial play in the game, but Cedar Rapids limited the Fighting Saints to just three second-period shots on goal, four in the third and 18 overall. The Riders' passing and puck movement were exquisite for much of the game.

"They're a good team, obviously," said Kuster, named an assistant captain this week, along with Nathan Widman. Dylan Gareau was named captain two weeks ago, with Corey Petrash an assistant.

"We just beared down in the second period and blocked shots," Kuster said. "We didn't want to spend too much time in our zone. We were playing a lot in their zone. That's getting pucks deep. We really focused on that."

The Riders killed off a length 5-on-3 man disadvantage late in the game. Judd Peterson finished a fine night with an empty net goal with 39.7 seconds left.

Muskegon comes to the Ice Arena on Friday, the lone game of the week for Cedar Rapids.

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