Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Report Card: Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

Team Record: 15-5-0

Total Points: 30

Goal Leader: Mike Seidel, Jeff Costello - 10

Assist Leader: Mike Seidel - 22

Points Leader: Mike Seidel - 32

PIM Leader: Paul Phillips - 31

+/- Leader: Kyle Flanagan - +16

Wins Leader: Mike Johnson - 12

Cedar Rapids is generally a team you know is going to be good each year. They always seem to have great starts to the year, and this one is no different. They have guys who can put the puck in the net night after night to go along with guys who can keep the puck out of the net night after night and that is a scary combination for any opponent. Coach Mark Carlson always brings in some top notch goalies, and this year the trend continues with Mike Johnson and Troy Grosenick. Though Johnson has gotten the majority of the games this season, Grosenick has been excellent in his limited time. He is 3-2-0 with a 1.95 GAA and a 92.1 save percentage. Meanwhile, Johnson showed some promise when he appeared in a couple of games last season for Cedar Rapids. He spent last season in the NAHL with St. Louis (with current Gambler head coach, Jon Cooper), so you know he had some great coaching down there. He boasts a 1.94 GAA and a 92.6 save percentage.

The Riders have not only scored the most goals so far (88) but have also given up the least goals (39). That says a lot about this team. They are disciplined and know how to score and, maybe most importantly, know how to keep the puck out of their net. Mike Seidel is in his 3rd year now, and he is putting up some very impressive numbers. Only 5 times this season has Seidel been held to no points in a game, and he's still averaging well over a point-per-game. The offense seems pretty well spread out, so it's hard for teams to set up a game plan for Cedar Rapids. The Riders seem to do most things right, and right most of the time and I feel this team is going to go places this year. One player to watch is Greg Burke. He was really impressive at the Fall Classic, but has only appeared in 8 games this season. I don't know if he's injured or what the deal is, but he is a pleasure to watch.

Defensively, this team is one of the best out there. Overall team D is really good for this team as well. On the season, only 3 players are in the minus column. Two of those players (Burke and Tobias Nilsson-Roos) have appeared in only a handful of games. Derik Johnson was recently traded and he was only a -2. Matt Donovan is the best defenseman Cedar Rapids has, and may be one of the better ones in the whole league. He is followed closely by Paul Phillips and Darren Rowe. This defense not only stops the shooter from getting quality shots, or even shots off at all, but they can burn you and put points up on the board, almost at will. A player like Doug Leaverton is one that is fun to follow along. He made the team last year as a free agent and played in only 20 games. He took it all and worked hard and is now a very dependable USHL defenseman who should have colleges talking to him soon, if they're not already.

This team is just simply flawless from what I can see right now. I can only give them an A+ for their efforts through 1/3 of the season.

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