USHL Update – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

By Jason Shaner
The 2000-2001 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are a much improved yet very similar team from last year. The RoughRiders, who are in their second year of existence after being moved from Mason City, Ia, have made a name for themselves in the USHL as being an aggressive, gritty team who always plays 110%. Last year Cedar Rapids was given the task of playing the first half of the season on the road where they did poorly. As the second half began they served notice that they were becoming a good hockey team. This year the RoughRiders got a “normal” schedule and after a rocky start are playing arguably some of the best hockey in the USHL right now. Cedar Rapids is tied for 2nd place with Waterloo in the Eastern Division. In their last 10 games they have had some impressive wins including two road wins at perennial power Des Moines and a home victory over the league favorite Lincoln Stars. Here is a breakdown on some of the individual leaders for the RoughRiders through the current Christmas break.

Offense – The RoughRiders are not well known for their offense but they do have a couple of stars. Darren Partch is the leader offensively and is one of the league leaders in the scoring. Partch has 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points and leads the team in scoring. Partch is the kind of player who is in the right place at the right time and can kill you with precision passing. Gerry Hickey returned to Cedar Rapids after a spectacular season last year. So far Hickey has 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points but he has an astonishing 120 penalty minutes. That number speaks volumes for the style of play he and the rest of the RoughRiders bring to the ice night in and night out. Mike Patton also deserves mention, as he has been a leader on offense as well. Patton has 9 goals and 7 assists for 16 points. The RoughRiders forwards are very physical as is the entire team, but they seem to be in the right place at the right time, if you aren’t ready for them, they will make you pay.

Defense – On defense the RoughRiders have some brutal hitters. Among those being Derrick Johnson and P.J. Atherton. Atherton recently won USHL defensive player of the week honors. Marc Andre LaLande and Xavier Daramy have also played well. The RoughRiders defense may be their only weak point. Although it has played well in recent weeks, the RoughRiders defense will need to continue to improve over the rest of the season. If they can do that, they could bypass a lot of teams in the league.

Goaltending – In between the pipes Cedar Rapids has found an up and coming star. Bobby Goepfert has been absolutely scintillating for the RoughRiders. To date Goepfert has compiled a 10-6 record with a 3.37 GAA and .905 saves percentage. Goepfert has been the horse in Cedar Rapids recent turnaround. Cedar Rapids fans definitely have been excited with his performances. His complete awareness of what is going on in front of him and the ability to make a split second decision and save is what makes him so valuable. Cedar Rapids has definitely come upon a future star and if his play continues as it has, Cedar Rapids will only continue to move up the USHL ladder.

So far Cedar Rapids is 12-10 good for 24 points and as mentioned before, a 2nd place tie with their arch-rivals Waterloo. The RoughRiders have scored 83 goals on the season while giving up 88. The 88 goals is one of the higher numbers for goals allowed which does show that Cedar Rapids defense has some improving to do. This team definitely is hot and has knocked off some top-notch talent along the way. If Cedar Rapids can continue at this pace the results could be exactly what the RoughRider faithful want, a playoff birth and the potential to go far.