RoughRiders Keep Rolling, Dominate Game 2

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter


By James Steward

CEDAR RAPIDS — You figured they’d play better in Game 2. Did they ever.

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders flew around the ice, passed the puck crisply, crashed the net, forechecked, got good goaltending and played with an edge. What else is there?

Another victory tonight would be nice. A 6-1 pasting of Muskegon Friday night before a loud crowd of 3,347 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena puts the Riders on the verge of advancing to the USHL Eastern Conference playoff finals.

They hopped on a bus for Chicago an hour or so after this beat down in preparation for Saturday night’s Game 3 in Michigan. If they keep up the level of play, or something even fairly close, you don’t see them losing.

“I think we played much better tonight,” said Cason Hohmann. “We got off to a little bit of a slow start (in Game 1), not having played in a little while. After the first period the other night, I thought we came out and started flying. But this game, we just played 100 percent the entire three periods. We got back to normal, played RoughRider hockey.”

There was expected rust in Wednesday’s 4-1 Game 1 victory here, but the encouraging thing was Cedar Rapids played better as the game progressed. The carry over from that to Game 2 was evident.

The Riders pumped 18 shots on Muskegon goalie Joel Vienneau in a scoreless first period, then had 18 more in the second, finally solving him with three goals. Hohmann had the first at the 5:14 mark, Sam Warning the second at 13:42 and Jayson Megna the third at 15:49.

“The first period was definitely a little frustrating,” said Warning. “But we just had to keep throwing pucks at the net. Eventually they’ll go in.”

They did in the third period as well, with Justin Kovacs, Peter Maric and Michael Parks scoring, chasing Vienneau after Maric’s bad-angle goal. The final shots count was 47-26 in favor of the Riders.

Sometimes that doesn’t accurately reflect play. This time, it did.

“I thought it was a pretty good performance,” said Riders Coach Mark Carlson. “We did a better job of getting pucks on the net tonight, did a good job with our puck protection and our low play again. But there’s still room for lots of improvement tomorrow night.”

Brady Hjelle continued to look locked in at the Riders net, making several fine saves and being beaten only by Matt Berry’s 2-on-1 rifle over his glove early in the third period.

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