Another week and another weekend set of games, and this weekend is big. If you can't watch the Fasthockey games and didn't see last weekends two games against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders you missed out on some great hockey. The good news is, this weekend the 'Riders coming to the Covelli for a rematch. The Phantoms can sweep the regular season series but you can bet the USHL's first place team isn't going to take being beat twice in their own house lying down. They'll be looking to make it a true grudge match.

These teams feature the two best offenses in the league, the 'Riders also boast the best defense. Last weekends games were fairly evenly matched, with a two goals being the highest margin either team managed to build. Chris Birdsall carried the full load in net for the Phantoms while Ben Blacker and Ryan Larkin split games in goal for the 'Riders. It will be interesting to see which goalies the coaches tap this weekend. I didn't see any real performance difference between the two 'Riders netminders, both are young but talented. If I had to chose I thought Larkin was the better of the two. Birdsall will probably be called to duty for the first night at least but I've been unable to second guess coach Noreen's goalie rotation this year. Defensively the Phantoms tightened their defense up a lot on the trip to Iowa and matched, if not out preformed, the top ranked 'Riders defense, especially last Friday. The 'Riders adjusted well for Saturdays game so it'll be interesting to see if either team makes and changes for this weekend.

The biggest difference this weekend is going to be with the Cedar Rapids offense. You would have to figure they would want to make some sort of adjustment there after the Phantoms held them to just 5 goals in the pair of games. We won't have to wait to see the line charts, it's obvious already. Mid-week the 'Riders dealt Joey Marooney and three draft picks to Green Bay for Joe Wegsworth. Marooney is now on his third USHL team this year, starting the season with Sioux Falls where he had 4 goals and 2 assists in 18 games before being traded to the 'Riders where he had 2 assists in 12 games. Wegsworth spent the past two years playing with the USA NTDP where he was a more physical presence than a scoring threat before joining the Green Bay Gamblers this season. He's found a little bit of a playmaking touch this season, posting 5 goals and 16 assists in 35 games. Earlier this month when the Gamblers visited the Covelli, he set up a Brian Bowen goal with a nifhty spin pass. Wegsworth should be a solid addition to the 'Riders though the Cedar Rapids squad isn't known for good mid-to-late season runs.

There isn't a whole lot to say. It's two top teams going head-to-head in what could be a first round playoff match. For that matter, Dubuque is in Muskeon for a pair of games. These two teams are in between the Phantoms and the 'Riders in the Eastern Conference race. There are big points in the standings this weekend all around. If you like good hockey, you need to get down the the Covelli this weekend.