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Anderson Cup Champs Ready for Clark Cup Playoffs

04/15/2016, 9:45am CDT
By Kevin Meyers, USHL

The USHL takes a look back at the season that was for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders: the highs, the lows, and how they're ready for more.


The 2015-2016 season was a remarkable one for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. They finished the season with a 40-15-3-2 record and head into the Clark Cup Playoffs as Anderson Cup Champions, given to the team in the USHL with the best regular season record. Now the focus turns to capturing the team’s first Clark Cup title since 2005.


Cedar Rapids had a red-hot start to the season, as they won their first five games, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 24-8 in the process. After losing their next four, the RoughRiders rebounded, winning 10 of their next 13 contests, including an eight-game win streak from November 21st to December 11th. They also had a five-game winning streak from January 7th through January 16th, as well as a six-game winning streak from February 21st through March 5th. They picked up a win in two-thirds of their games for a winning percentage of .667. The RoughRiders finished four points clear of the Green Bay Gamblers in the Eastern Conference as well as the race in the Anderson Cup, and finished 12 points ahead of the Tri-City Storm, the top team in the Western Conference.


Up front, Ross Colton led the way offensively for the RoughRiders during the regular season. The University of Vermont commit finished with 66 points (35G, 31A), tops on the team and second in the USHL only to Muskegon’s Rem Pitlick. Colton’s 35 goals were also second to Pitlick, and his 31 assists led his team. Jack Ahcan was the main man on the back end for the Cedar Rapids offensively. His 44 points (14G, 30A) ranked third on the team behind Colton and Hugh McGing. The St. Cloud State commit’s 14 goals lead all USHL defensemen, and the 30 assists were good for fifth in the league. Ahcan was also second among all USHL defensemen in scoring.


In between the pipes, Ben Blacker took over full-time duties after an unfortunate injury to Ryan Larkin. Blacker blossomed into one of the top goaltenders in the league, maintaining a high-level of play despite playing the second most minutes in the USHL. Blacker finished second only to Green Bay’s Adam Huska with a 2.24 GAA and a .926 SV%. He was named USHL Goaltender of the Week on five separate occasions, and he finished the season with 33 victories, the most in the league. He also recorded five shutouts, tied for most in the league with Ryan Wischow of Fargo.


Behind the bench, Mark Carlson became only the second coach in USHL history, along with Waterloo’s P.K. O’Handley to coach 1,000 career games. It’s been a storied career in Cedar Rapids for Carlson, the only coach the RoughRiders have known since coming into the league for the 1999-2000 season. Carlson has taken Cedar Rapids to the playoff in 15 of his 17 seasons as head coach. He has also won two Anderson Cups prior to this season along with the 2005 Clark Cup title. More than 40 of Carlson’s former players are currently playing in the NCAA and 17 are signed to NHL contracts. Over his coaching career Carlson has seen over 200 players receive college commitments and 21 players selected in the NHL Draft. In typical Mark Carlson fashion, he’s not done and neither are his RoughRiders. They will look to take the 2016 Clark Cup starting Friday, April 15th when the Anderson Cup makes its first public appearance to the fans at The Stable.


Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16.  A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 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.

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