Roe is Aboard With a Flash
by Brad Salmen/CHN Reporter
Call him the other, *other* freshman.
It is not unusual to have a handful of high-impact freshmen making fans take notice across the nation — indeed, in this day and age of top-flight players leaving after three, two or even one season in the NCAA, it's become the norm.
However, it is rather unusual that early into the 2007-08 season, two out of the top three, and three out of the top six scorers in the nation, are freshmen. It is no surprise to learn that one of them is the highly-touted Kyle Turris (6-7-13) from Wisconsin, who has become the rare phenom that has lived up to, if not outstripped, the hype. And, as Mike McMahon notes, Boston College's Joe Whitney (3-8—11) has quickly become a household name, especially out east.
But for the casual hockey fan scanning this week's scoring leaderboard, the question might arise:
Who the heck is Garrett Roe?
While he might be unknown to the casual fan, the St. Cloud State freshman is well-known to college hockey coaches across the nation. A three-year veteran of the Indiana Ice of the USHL, Roe was finished his career as Indiana's career points leader, amassing a 24-39—63 point, All-Star performance his final season — so it's not as if he was unknown and unheralded.
"No one hides in that league," said Huskies coach Bob Motzko. "There are no secrets."
Nevertheless, perhaps because of his small stature (5-foot-8, 162 lbs.), Roe arrived at SCSU undrafted and just another part of a talented recruiting class that included Tony Mosey, Dan Dunn, Nick Oslund, Aaron Marvin and Brett Barta. But it didn't take long for fans and foes alike to realize something special had arrived at the National Hockey Center.
Roe started off the year with three points (2-1—3) in the Huskies' 7-0 season-opener against Canisius, and while he was held scoreless the next two games he has since rattled off 10 points in the last five games, including two goals and two assists Oct. 27 against Bemidji. With 13 points in eight games, including six goals, he currently is tied atop the scoring leaderboard with Turris and teammate Ryan Lasch (5-8-13).
"We felt all along Garrett was a special player — he's got a great amount of talent and elusive offensive ability, and we knew he was going to be a great player in the WCHA," said Motzko. "But it was a big surprise to see (those big numbers) coming out of the blocks ... you just never know how any one player is going to perform."
And just as you never know how a player is going to perform on the ice, there's always the question of character, and how one is going to perform off the ice. In that regard, said Motzko, his staff has been doubly blessed.
"(Roe's) a tremendous student. We just got our grade reports, and he's got straight A's going," he said. "He's a hard-working, likeable kid ... the prototypical student athlete."
The addition of Roe, along with fellow freshman Mosey (3-4—7), has turned the Huskies (4-2-2) into one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation. Besides Roe and Sophomore Lasch, Sr. Nate Dey (6-4—10), Sr. Aaron Brocklehurst (2-8—10) and So. Andreas Nodl (3-5—8) are all ranked in the top 50 in the NCAA in scoring, which ties Miami for most in the nation. The Huskies have scored 30 goals in eight games, or nearly four goals a game.
The scary thing is, this is a team still trying to find its identity.
"We're a work in progress," said Motzko. "In eight games, we've had six different line combinations ... with so many young players in the lineup, it's been a little bit of a yo-yo, and we're trying to steady the ship."
Indeed, the Huskies had a minor setback Oct. 19-20, when they were swept on the road by Minnesota-Duluth. But since then, the team is 3-0-1, with a sweep of Bemidji St. and a win and tie against Alaska-Anchorage.
Motzko credited the recent wins to solid goaltending from Jase Weslosky and Dunn, a revamped defensive unit (after spending last season as a forward, Brocklehurst has returned to the blue line), and especially the play of his more experienced veterans, particularly Dey, who Motzko said has been emerged as a phenomenal team leader.
But the key to future success, he said, will be finding a way to mesh that veteran experience with young players like Roe.
"(Roe) is a whale of a competitor. He brings a high energy level every night, and he's been finding a way to put it all together," Motzko said. "He's been a big part of the success of our forward group, and if we keep making progress the way we have (the last two weeks) we'll be a tough team to beat."