Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have a storied history in the world of junior hockey in North America. Founded in 1999, the team has continuously provided thrilling moments for fans, both young and old, for over two decades. From nail-biting upsets to heart-stopping wins, the RoughRiders have left a lasting impact on the sport of hockey. Today, as we take a trip down memory lane, we will relive some of the most memorable moments in Cedar Rapids RoughRiders history.
The Beginning: An Underdog Team Emerges (1999-2000)
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders were founded as an expansion team in 1999, joining the United States Hockey League (USHL). The team’s first season wasn’t the most successful, finishing with a 27-28-5 record. However, this set the stage for their underdog status in the years to come.
Despite their record, the RoughRiders were able to secure a playoff spot in their inaugural season. In the first round, they faced the heavily favored Danville Wings, who had finished the season with a 45-15-0 record. In what would set the tone for the team’s future of overcoming the odds, the RoughRiders defeated the Wings in a stunning three-game sweep. This inaugural season victory remains one of the most iconic moments in Cedar Rapids RoughRiders history.
The Miracle in Muskegon (2010-2011)
In the 2010-2011 season, the RoughRiders found themselves trailing 3-1 in a best-of-five playoff series against the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Most teams in this situation would have already started preparing for the off-season, but not the RoughRiders. In a display of determination and resilience, the team rallied and won the remaining three games to clinch the series and advance to the Clark Cup Final.
In front of their home crowd in Cedar Rapids, the RoughRiders faced the heavily favored Green Bay Gamblers in the final. However, the team once again proved that they were not to be underestimated as they defeated the Gamblers in a thrilling two-game sweep. This Cinderella-like run is known as the Miracle in Muskegon and is considered one of the greatest moments in Cedar Rapids RoughRiders history.
The Birth of the Rider Cup (2017-Present)
In 2017, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders faced off against in-state rival Waterloo Black Hawks in a regular-season game. The game went into overtime and ended in a thrilling sudden-death goal for the RoughRiders. As the teams shook hands after the game, RoughRiders Head Coach and General Manager Mark Carlson commented that it was a good old-fashioned barn burner.
This passionate and intense game sparked the birth of the Rider Cup, a three-game series between the RoughRiders and Black Hawks each season. The cup is awarded to the team with the most wins in the series, adding an extra layer of competition between the two in-state rivals. This friendly rivalry has become a highlight of the USHL season and has solidified the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders’ place in the league’s history.
NHL Draft Success Stories
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have a noteworthy history when it comes to NHL draft picks. Many players who have donned the blue and orange jersey of the RoughRiders have gone on to have successful careers in the NHL.
In 2004, Trevor Lewis was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, an achievement that marked the first-ever RoughRiders player to be drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft. Lewis went on to win two Stanley Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014, solidifying his place in RoughRiders history and in the NHL.
More recently, in the 2019 NHL Draft, the RoughRiders had two players drafted in the first round. Forward Bobby Brink was selected 34th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, and defenseman Michael Koster was selected 146th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs. These two players join the list of over 100 players drafted from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, showcasing the team’s ability to develop talent and provide a launchpad for young players’ careers.
Unforgettable Moments and Enduring Legacy
It can be easy to forget the past and get caught up in the latest news and trends. However, the moments and achievements of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders’ history are a testament to the spirit and passion of the sport of hockey. From their underdog beginnings to their current status as one of the top teams in the USHL, the RoughRiders continue to inspire and captivate hockey fans across the United States.
As we celebrate these historic upsets and wins, we are reminded of the legacy that the RoughRiders have built over the years. Whether it’s their resilience, their rivalry with the Black Hawks, or their success in developing NHL-caliber players, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have earned their place in the rich history of junior hockey. And as the team continues to make memories and write new chapters in their history, one thing is for sure – the RoughRiders will always be remembered as a force to be reckoned with in the world of minor hockey.