Riders Beat Green Bay, 4-2

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

Green Bay Gamblers' Aaron Harstad (2, left) and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders' Nick Saracino (26) watch as the puck flies in the first period of their game on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. (Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News)

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By Kelli Sutterman

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Sam Warning’s empty netter literally at the buzzer caps this one for the RoughRiders.

Travis Lynch deflected in a wrist shot from the blue line by defenseman Brian O’Rourke at 5:04 of the third to put Green Bay in front, 2-1. Jayson Megna tied it just 1:40 later on a one-timer in front, then put the Riders on top with a power-play goal at 8:24.

Justin Kovacs received a pass at the left point from Ian Brady, skated into the slot, spun and let go with a backhander that Megna deflected between the pads of Green Bay goalie Ryan McKay. Pretty, pretty goal.

Kovacs made it 1-1 with 44.3 seconds left in the second period with a wicked slap shot from the left point on the power play. The blast hit the top corner of the net and ended a lot of frustration for Cedar Rapids, which has had much the better of the play in this one.

This is officially the halfway mark of the United States Hockey League season for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, and it’s a pretty big game. The Riders (20-5-4, 44 points) trail Green Bay (23-7-2, 48 points) by four points in the Eastern Conference, with Cedar Rapids having three games in hand.

Goaltending matchup is Brady Hjelle (19-3-3) for the Riders and Ryan McKay (13-3-1) for Green Bay. The Gamblers beat Cedar Rapids twice in a home-and-home series two weeks ago, both games in shootouts.

Cedar Rapids has the game’s first power play just two minutes in, but Green Bay killed it off. Just 14 seconds later, another C.R. power play on a high-sticking call, but G.B. kills it off. Could be pivotal early plays.

Peter Maric of the Riders was pulled down from behind on a breakaway at the 9:56 mark for a penalty shot, but McKay stopped the attempt, with Maric losing control of the puck after a couple of head fakes and only getting off an off-balanced weak backhander.

The RoughRiders carried most of the first period but couldn’t dent McKay. Shots edge was 19-6 C.R. Yes, 19.

Green Bay got an early second-period power play and made the most of it, as Robert Francis stuffed home a shot at the side of the net at the 2:33 mark. Assist to Travis Lynch.

Hjelle stopped Austin Czarnik on a breakaway at the five-minute mark. A Cedar Rapids power play midway through the period was aborted early because of a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.

Through 2, shots edge was 27-17 Cedar Rapids.

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