RoughRiders to Conference Finals After 7-3 Win Over Muskegon

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

MUSKEGON, Michigan — The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders scored early again last night. This time they kept scoring.

Sam Warning had a pair of goals in a four-goal third period, and the RoughRiders advanced to the USHL Eastern Conference finals with a 7-3 win over the Muskegon Lumberjacks in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series.

Cedar Rapids won the series, 3-1, moving on to play the Green Bay Gamblers in a best-of-5 set beginning Friday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Game 2 is Saturday night at The Stable.

The teams finished the regular season 1-2 in points, playing seven games, all decided by one or two goals.

“It’s going to be a heck of a series,” Riders Coach Mark Carlson said. “We’ve got a lot of respect for them.”

Michael Parks scored just 1:04 into this one, similar to a fast start in Saturday night’s Game 3, in which the Riders scored three minutes in. That turned out to be their only goal in a 5-1 loss.

Not so last night, as Peter Maric added a goal at the 3:55 mark. After Muskegon rallied to tie it midway through the second period, Cedar Rapids countered with the next four goals: Nick Saracino’s go-ahead deflection 11:34 into the second, Justin Kovacs’ goal 24 seconds into the third and Warning’s two tallies.

Stu Wilson had a unique power-play empty netter with two seconds to go to official ice it.

“To me, the big story of this game was our discipline,” Carlson said. “We were extremely disciplined. We had a plan, and they stuck to it … We had zero retaliatory penalties, we stayed out of the penalty box.”

To Carlson’s point, Cedar Rapids had a five-minute power play midway through the third when Muskegon’s Carter Foguth was given an instigator minor, fighting major and game ejection to no penalty on the play for the Riders. The L-Jacks led the USHL in penalties in the regular season.

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