Photo by Hickling Images
Team: Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
Head Coach: Mark Carlson, 19th season
“We are looking forward to a very competitive training camp and exhibition season. We have some exciting challenges early in the regular season schedule, opening up on the road in Green Bay, followed by the next night in Madison. We look forward to our home opener on October 14th.”
2016-17 Record: 12-44-3-1 (28 PTS, 9th in Eastern Conference)
Top Returners: Steven Agriogianis, Marc McLaughlin, Dalton Messina, Jakub Sirota, Jordan Timmons, Liam Walsh
Notable Additions: Graham Slaggert, Jiri Patera, Austin Park
After a tough 2016-17 season, Cedar Rapids is primed to move back up the USHL standings and replicate the success of their 2015-16 campaign, where they finished as Anderson Cup Champions as the top USHL team in the regular season. The RoughRiders bring back a bevy of players who sported the green and black last year, and they will try to strive in their second USHL seasons. These players include Jakub Sirota, who participated in the 2017 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, and Boston College commit Marc McLaughlin.
Ridertown is also looking forward to watching an exciting cast of new faces heading into next year. A big addition for the RoughRiders heading into the 2017-18 season is Graham Slaggert, the first overall pick in the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft. Slaggert spent the previous two seasons with Team USA, and he will look have as successful of a season as former Sioux City Musketeers defenseman Matt Hellickson did last year. Hellickson, who is set to begin his freshman season at the University of Notre Dame, where Slaggert is committed, was selected with the first overall pick of the 2016 USHL Phase II Draft and helped the Musketeers to the Clark Cup Final last season.
A trio of new goaltenders will be battling for a spot between the pipes in Cedar Rapids. Seventh round Phase II selection Connor Murphy will look to take the jump from Tier 3 to Tier 1 junior hockey, as he spent last season with the Springfield Jr. Pics of the USPHL. Fourth round Phase II pick Austin Park is coming off a solid year for the NAHL’s Minot Minotauros in which he finished the regular season with a 2.16 GAA and .927 SV%. The Colorado native also put up a 1.72 GAA and .938 SV% in the Robertson Cup Playoffs en route to being named to the 2017 NAHL All-Central Division Rookie Team. Rounding out the trio is Vegas Golden Knights draft pick Jiri Patera, who spent last season with HC Ceske Budejovice in his native Czech Republic. Patera played with both the U18 and U20 teams, finishing with a 2.26 and 2.61 GAA along with a .920 and .933 SV%, respectively. The .933 SV% he registered for the HC Ceske Budejovice U20 team was the best in the country among all goaltenders in that age group, and he also led the Czech Republic to a gold medal at last season’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five 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.