Corridor Cross Checks: Mark Carlson’s reaction to his 750th career coaching win typically low key

RoughRiders head coach Mark Carlson reacts during a game against Team USA at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Friday, March 25, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS – You ask Mark Carlson about creating a Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Hall of Fame, and he brushes that idea away, like a good goalie using his blocker to corner a puck harmlessly.

Too many good players here over the years, he says. He doesn’t want it to be just about hockey anyway, because that’s just part of what his program has been about all these years.

It’s about preparing kids for life to thrive off the rink, not just on the rink.

“We told the team that, and I like it, people are starting to talk more about sports teams, about the brand,” Carlson said. “The RoughRider brand has always been about teamwork first. Nobody above the team. It’s always been like this, from day one, before we even played a game.

“That’s why I’ve always felt it was important not to have a RoughRiders Hall of Fame and to put some people ahead of others in a way. That’s why we didn’t do it.”

If ever there comes a time when a HOF becomes a thing, the first person to take on should be Carlson. Thats is quite easy.

He reached the 750-win streak for his head coaching career on Saturday night when the RoughRiders beat Muskegon 7-1 at ImOn Ice. The only coach Cedar Rapids has had since its inception in the United States Hockey League for the 1999-2000 season, Carlson has an overall record of 750-546-110.

He is 33 wins away from tying PK O’Handley for the USHL record for most career coaching wins.

“I certainly don’t want to take it down as I have a lot of respect for the league and everyone involved in the league,” Carlson said. “I was fortunate to be a part of it. (750 wins) sure are nice. But at the same time we work on the same things day after day. We played against a really strong opponent in Muskegon on Saturday night and we were able to win and that was the most important thing.

“The other situation was nice to be a part of”

Carlson’s RoughRiders have won a Clark Cup (2004-05) and three Anderson Cups for most league points in the regular season in their 23 years at the helm. He has developed over 500 players who have gone on to receive Division I college scholarships, 41 National Hockey League draft picks and 28 players who have played in the NHL.

These include multiple Stanley Cup winners Alec Martinez and Ross Colton.

His phone exploded with congratulatory texts on Saturday night. But other than that, a graphic on the arena scoreboard announcing his milestone, a game puck presented to him by his team in the locker room after the game, and a few slices and drinks downtown at Need Pizza, that was all , what belonged to celebrate ready.

You really shouldn’t have expected anything else.

“We trained them well to focus on the task at hand,” Carlson said of his team, smiling. “We’re just happy with our group, it looks like we’re going to get some lads back now who were injured on the sidelines for us. We are really excited to see what the team can achieve in the future.”

The Iowa Heartlanders

It’s just a whole heartache for the ECHL club.

The Heartlanders lost three straight games at home to the Fort Wayne Komets over the weekend. Of course there had to be an overtime defeat somewhere, which came 3-2 in the series finale on Sunday.

Iowa scored twice from Tommy Parrotino for a 2-1 lead but gave up a game-defining short handler with 3:42 left in regulation, then Shawn Boudrias won 2:13 in three-on-three OT . The Heartlanders have lost nine games in overtime and another in a shootout this season.

Fort Wayne picked up a 5-2 win on Friday night and a 2-1 win on Saturday night at the Xtream Arena. The Heartlanders went 0-5-1 in their six home games against Fort Wayne and Toledo and are winless in their last nine games overall (0-7-2).

Iowa has a 7-22-9-1 record for 24 league points, is seventh and bottom in the Central Division of the ECHL and second to bottom in the league after Norfolk (17 league points). The Heartlanders have a league-low 94 goals and lost two players last week to an ECHL call-up (forward Mitchell Balmas) and ECHL PTO (defender Giant Zmolek), both against the AHL’s Iowa Wild.

This weekend

The RoughRiders have a home-and-home series against the Chicago Steel. Friday night’s game will be held at ImOn Ice, with an opening faceoff at 7:05. On Sunday afternoon, the Green Bay Gamblers are coming to Cedar Rapids for a game starting at 4:05 am.

Chicago leads the USHL’s Eastern Conference with 47 points, eight points ahead of the RoughRiders, who lie in fifth place in a division where first through sixth places are separated by only nine points.

The Heartlanders were out for three games this weekend. That would be Friday and Saturday nights in Wheeling and Sunday in Fort Wayne.

The Heartlanders are yet to win an away game this season, a 0-13-7-0 record.

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