Eric Lind can remember when he first met Cedar Rapids RoughRiders owner Tony Sdao, roughly 10 years ago.
By Joshua Boyd
“His son [Michael Sdao] was the captain for Princeton, and I was coaching at Yale, and that’s where we established our relationship,” said Lind, general manager and head coach of the Connecticut RoughRiders. “That relationship has blossomed over the last 10 years. Now, the RoughRiders group is unbelievable, with Mark Carlson at Cedar Rapids (USHL), down to the Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL) and Superior RoughRiders (WSHL). They just have an unbelievable coaching staff across the board, and I’m very happy to be part of this family.”
The Connecticut RoughRiders have indeed joined the RoughRiders group as an affiliate. Lind is especially looking forward to the organization’s coaching summit this off-season.
“Not only does the RoughRiders name help with the recruiting aspect, but we’ll get together annually as coaches. We’re always trying to improve, trying to get our teams to get better by bringing in sports psychologists, or going over the latest training techniques,” said Lind. “If you’re not always trying to improve yourself, you’ll get stale.”
Lind is hoping to continue improving his team. The former Connecticut Oilers became the RoughRiders after the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. This allowed a different ownership group to take up the Oilers mantle in Hamden, Conn.
“The biggest challenge is to have people realize this is the Connecticut Oilers of 2016-17. We just have a new name, but the same coaching staff,” Lind added. “We have a very good track record of moving players on to the next level. We’re developing not just players but people.”
The RoughRiders brand carries across all levels at the SoNo Ice House in Norwalk, Conn., from Mites up through the Tier-1 AAA Midget team that plays in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League, and on to the juniors.
“You can stay with the RoughRiders from Mite to juniors, and you don’t have to go outside the organization,” said Lind.
While the recruiting charge will continue throughout the remainder of the spring and the summer, Lind is very optimistic about the first team based on players he’s already signed.
“We are just looking to fill a few more spots,” Lind added. “It’s nice, especially for the younger players who are looking to move on to the USHL. They’ll get really nice looks from the Cedar Rapids team. The more resources you have within your organization, the better you’re going to get.”