Twenty games into the season, the Connecticut Roughriders are playing well.
They fashioned an 11-8-1 record in that stretch and were in first place in the Central Division of the Eastern Hockey League as of Nov. 13.
By Brian Lester
“We’re doing well,” said Roughriders head coach Eric Lind. “We’re first in our division. We have a good mix of veterans and newcomers this year.”
As for what has stood out in the first 20 games, Lind pointed to several things.
“We are a good skating team. We move the puck very well,” Lind said. “What I really like, though, is our work ethic.”
The Roughriders are certainly pleased with where they are at this point in the season but are in no way going to become complacent. There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of hockey to be played.
“Our big focus is just to get better every day,” Lind said. “Every time we step on the ice, we want to leave it a little better.”
Alex Rowella is one of the aforementioned veterans. He scored nine goals and dished out 11 assists in the first 20 games. Rowella is the team captain and is in his third season with Connecticut.
Nick Kukuris has also risen to the occasion. The assistant captain is a big power forward and had six goals and eight assists.
Cullen Kane, the cousin of Patrick Kane, has made perhaps the biggest impact of any new player, leading the team in goals (14), assists (22) and points (36).
Mitchell Parsons has bounced back from an injury earlier in the year to tally nine goals and 12 assists in 13 games. Connor Boyce and Brendan Dowler have both played integral roles on the defense, tallying 10 and seven points, respectively.
Swedish imports Gustaf Arfelt and August Nyblom have come through with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Goaltending play has been solid as well for the Roughriders. Ryan Bonnvie and Jeremy Thelven have split time in goal, with Thelven winning seven games and racking up 269 saves. Bonnvie has won four games and has 247 saves.
“They have both been very good,” Lind said. “They give us a chance to win every night.”
Note: This is an updated version of an article that appeared in the November 2017 issue of USA Jr. Hockey Magazine.
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