The hockey world is a tight-knit community. When one community is in peril, not even the fiercest of rivals give a second thought to helping any way they possibly can.
This was the case with the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Waterloo Black Hawks. The Cedar Rapids, IA area has been dealing with widespread flooding over the past week with the second worst flood in the city’s history. But all three teams have come together and done whatever they can to help the recovery efforts. The Fighting Saints, unprompted, headed to Cedar Rapids early last week to help sandbag and assist with the relief efforts.
Dubuque head coach Jason Lammers thinks it’s very important for USHL teams, including his own, to get involved in the community.
“I think it was really important for the team,” he said of the Saints time in Cedar Rapids. “At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. It was really important that we do that and give back to the community. One of the things we’re trying to teach these young people is that, obviously they’re here to get better and improve as an individual, but there’s also a greater world and a greater sense that it’s really important that they learn they’re not the most important person in the world. Helping others is a great way to do that.”
Cedar Rapids was also a big part of the relief efforts in their hometown. The flooding situation hit home especially for the RoughRiders because it is the second time in recent history that the city has suffered from extreme flooding.
Head coach Mark Carlson talked about how important the experience was to go out and help their fellow Cedar Rapids residents.
“It was great for all of our players to be out in our community,” Carlson said. “It gave them a great feeling of how they could help and contribute.”
Dubuque and Cedar Rapids is one of the fiercest rivalries in the USHL. On the ice, the two sides might not like each other very much, but in a situation like this, Lammers said that the on-ice rivalry was the last thing on the minds of the Fighting Saints coaches and players.
“At this time, and with what they’re going through in Cedar Rapids, we’re all on the same team in this. I think you lose your colors real quick in that situation, so it was great to see the guys go over and help out. Again, we’re all on the same team in a situation like that where the community needs help, and I’m sure they would do the same back for us. “
The players echoed the same sentiment as the coaching staff. They talked about how important it was to help out a fellow USHL community in their time of need.
“It was really good to go help out in the community,” Fighting Saints forward Zach Solow said. “I know if the same thing was happening in Dubuque that is happening in Cedar Rapids, they would come over and do the same.”
As for the Waterloo Black Hawks, they are doing what they can to help the flood relief efforts by way of a fundraiser. According to a press release from the Black Hawks, at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Waterloo, “Mention that you are dining as part of the Black Hawks’ event and 10% of your check will be contributed to The Salvation Army of Waterloo-Cedar Falls, as part of the efforts to help victims of northeast Iowa flooding.”
Cedar Rapids will also be donating $3 for every ticket sold for Friday night’s game.
It speaks to the unspoken bond that hockey teams have with one another that three teams, all on their own, would do whatever they could to help a community in need. On the ice, the RoughRiders, Fighting Saints, and Black Hawks may be three separate teams, but when it comes to helping the city of Cedar Rapids and their home state of Iowa, they are one.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.