Riders Win Third Straight
CEDAR RAPIDS Talk about putting the power back in the power play.
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders finished off a sweep of their home-and-home weekend series against the Des Moines Buccaneers last night with a hat trick on the man advantage. Make that another hat trick.
Justin Kovacs, Jayson Megna and Cason Hohmann scored power-play goals in a 6-3 win before 3,926 fans at a raucous Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The Riders also won Friday night at Des Moines with a trio of power-play markers.
"We've been looking over our power play," said Hohmann, who added two assists for a three-point night. "We've been doing OK, but not as good as we've wanted to. We really, really pushed and worked on it this week in practice to get better on it. And I think it showed tonight."
The RoughRiders are traditionally strong on the man advantage, though they entered last night's game a pedestrian 10th in the United States Hockey League in effectiveness. That's 10th with a bullet after this weekend.
"We've had real good traffic, a real good net presence, and that's helped," said Riders Coach Mark Carlson, celebrating his 42nd birthday. "It's just simplifying. We've really simplified things. More so than any other year, we've used more guys (on it) up to this point. In the last month or so, we've gotten it down to about 10 guys."
Kovacs scored twice, including on a breakaway after a nifty deke move just 57 seconds in. Michael Parks and Josiah Didier scored for a 3-1 lead after a period, then Hohmann made it 4-1 late in the second.
Des Moines closed within 4-3, but Jayson Megna and Kovacs put it away midway through the third with power-play goals a minute apart. Megna's league-leading 24th was a 5-on-3 goal.
"I think it's just been hard work," said Didier. "Special teams are important this time of year. It decides games."
The Riders moved to 25-7-5 and 55 points, one behind Green Bay for first overall and in the USHL's Eastern Conference. They will be without defenseman Anthony DeAngelo the rest of the season, after the 15-year-old broke his right kneecap on a wrist shot in Friday's game.
DeAngelo had a goal and 13 assists in 28 games and had a plus-minus rating of plus-four. He is the youngest player ever in the USHL, playing the early part of the season as a 14-year-old.
Coincidentally, today is the trade deadline in the league.
"We've got to find a defenseman," Carlson said, when asked if he anticipated any deals.
Here is video of a second-period fight between Didier of the Riders and Mitch Cain of Des Moines. A couple of good punches landed both ways.