CEDAR RAPIDS – They might be a good team, they might not. About five months will tell that tale.
But if the first two games are any indication, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders ought to be fun to watch. That's if you enjoy goals and run-and-gun hockey.
And who doesn't?
Sioux Falls got a go-ahead goal from former RoughRider Dennis Kravchenko late in the second period, built a three-goal lead in the third period and held on for a 5-4 win Saturday night in the home opener at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
It was a 1-1 opening weekend for the Riders, who won Friday night at Lincoln, 6-3. Two games, 18 total goals, 11 from the good guys.
Kravchenko, was was traded to Sioux Falls last summer after an off-ice incident, broke in around defenseman Scott Moldenhauer and beat RoughRiders goaltender Chris Birdsall for a pretty goal that made it 3-2 Stampede with 1:30 left in the second period.
Sioux Falls got goals six seconds apart early in the third period for a 5-2 lead, but credit to the Riders for not laying down. Marsh scored his second of the night off a neat feed from Andrew Oglevie at the 5:14 mark, then Andrew Poturalski made it anyone's game again with a power-play goal with 8:49 to go.
Cedar Rapids put on some pressure down the stretch, pulling Birdsall with about 1:20 to go, but was unable to send it to extra time.
It was a first-year player that scored the first goal of the game, late in the first period. Casey Jerry took a feed in the slot from Jason Kalinowski, who was behind the net, had time to aim and rifled a wrist shot into the top corner of the net over the glove of Sioux Falls goaltender David Jacobson.
Birdsall was called upon a lot in the first period and was very good in turning away every shot. Sioux Falls kept up the offensive pressure in the second period, however, and went ahead on goals from Zeb Knutson and Michael Buonincontri.
With not much going, Cedar Rapids was able to tie the game by forcing a turnover deep in the Sioux Falls zone. Alec Marsh tipped a puck away from a Stampede defenseman, directly to Dylan McLaughlin, who went in alone on Jacobson.
The goalie made a miraculous initial save on a deking McLaughlin, but lost his stick, with the rebound going to Marsh, who made it a 2-2 game at the 15:41 mark.
The RoughRiders return to action Friday night at home against Youngstown. It's their only game of the week.