CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – As long as defense continues to be the thing that goes around de-yard, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are probably going to struggle.
The Riders gave up too many goals again Saturday night and lost to the Waterloo Black Hawks, 7-3, before 3,188 fans at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Cedar Rapids has dropped three consecutive games and seven of nine to fall to 7-8-2 overall. It has allowed three or more goals in seven straight games.
It's hard to win when you've got to outgun your opponent every night.
"I think it's been the same thing that you saw tonight. Pretty obvious," said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson. "Just not playing responsible."
Simply too many defensive mistakes allowed probably the USHL's most talented team too many quality opportunities. Waterloo (14-5) has a pair of NHL draft picks in forwards Zach Stepan and Vince Hinostroza and could have as many as four other guys taken in the 2013 draft.
The Black Hawks scored three times in the first period against Riders goaltender Chris Birdsall. Goals by Gerry Mayhew and newcomer Phillip Marinaccio (acquired last week in a trade from the Chicago Steel) made it a 3-2 game a little over four minutes into the second.
But Waterloo put it away with three more goals in the final seven minutes of the period. Vince Hinostroza (a Chicago Blackhawks draftee) had two of the three, including one off an odd-man rush that made it 4-2.
A minute later, Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata went in on a 2-on-0 break, with Kloos getting the goal. That came seconds after Birdsall stoned Cammarata on a breakaway.
As was said, too many defensive mistakes.
"We just didn't play smart enough," Carlson said.
Chad Catt replaced Birdsall for the third period, though that wasn't an indictment of his play. Birdsall, who turned 16 on Saturday, honestly wasn't given much of a chance by his team.
Cammarata scored in the third period to cap off the night for Waterloo. Judd Peterson had a goal for Cedar Rapids.
"This is sports. There's not a tragedy going on here, you know what I mean?," Carlson said. "They're working hard at it, and they're going to keep developing and stay positive. Like I say all the time, it depends on the tone that the coaching staff sets. We'll continue to be positive. We did a lot of good things in this game tonight, and to not recognize the good things would be completely idiotic. We've got to continue doing the good things and erase some of the irresponsible play."
On a positive note, Mayhew's goal allowed the fans to celebrate the annual Teddy Bear Toss night. Collected bears are given to Toys For Tots as Christmas giveaways to needy children.
The RoughRiders host Chicago on Thursday night.