With their backs against the wall down two games to none in the semifinals of the Clark Cup playoffs against the Omaha Lancers, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders could do only one thing. Win.
Cedar Rapids got off to an early start and hung on to beat the Lancers for the first time this season 4-3. The game was played in Waterloo, Iowa as the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, most commonly known as “The Stable” was occupied by the circus. Although the 1,900 in attendance couldn’t have matched the noise of a sellout crowd on their home ice, the Cedar Rapids players and fans made the best of the situation.
It was Chase Watson who got the RoughRiders started on the night. After falling behind 1-0 on a Zech Klann rebound score at the 4:14 mark of the period, Watson took over for Cedar Rapids. Watson helped knot the game up at one while the RoughRiders were on the power play. Skating in towards Omaha goalie Marty Magers, Watson put the initial shot on net. Magers made the save but Michael Pasley was there for the rebound to score at the 8:13 mark.
Watson again played the key role as the RoughRiders gave themselves some breathing room scoring twice early in the second period. Matt Olinger scored only 1:08 into the period as Watson got the assist. Chase then scored on a breakaway only a minute later. As the puck was perfectly placed on his stick, Watson streaked into the offensive zone and blasted the shot past Magers. The goal ended Magers night as the Lancers brought in Dominic Vicari. Omaha tried to regain some momentum as Vicari stopped the bleeding from the early ambush in the second period. The Lancers scored with 4:15 left in the period when Aaron Slattengren found himself in front of the net all alone after a shot had left Bobby Goepfert sprawling on the ice. There was truly little Goepfert could do as Slattengren lifted the shot over him into the net cutting the lead to 1 heading into the final period.
Only 24 seconds into the third period Omaha got caught with their hands in the cookie jar and they put Cedar Rapids on the power play. The RoughRiders needed only five seconds to score as Stephen Burgess scored what turned out to be the eventual game winner. The Lancers John Thomas brought his club back to within one at the 13:43 mark of the period but that was as close as Omaha would get. Goepfert was at his best at the end of the game. With the Lancers on the power play in the final two minutes of the game, Vicari was pulled and Omaha peppered the net with shots. Each time Goepfert was there to make the save and the hardworking Cedar Rapids defense was not to be denied tonight. The RoughRiders were inches away from a empty net goal as time ticked away but the shot hit off the post.