SPECIAL REPORT: Morinville to retire from Moorhead hockey

Moorhead boys hockey coach Dave Morinville, one of Minnesota’s most decorated coaches, said Monday morning he is stepping down.

Morinville told his team at their banquet on Sunday he was going to resign.

“One of my daughters just got married,” Morinville said. “It makes you realize how fast life is going.”

His decision to step down comes weeks after Moorhead hired a new athletic director, Dean Haugo, to replace outgoing athletic director Don Hulbert, who has worked with Morinville going back to their days at Fargo North.

Morinville said another reason why he decided to walk away is because it seemed like a good time.

He just led the Spuds to their 13th Minnesota state hockey tournament appearance and had arguably one of the more memorable games of the tournament. The Spuds, led by goaltender Michael Bitzer, shocked title favorite Eagan and its four Division I commits in the first round of the tournament.

Moorhead reached the second round where it lost to state runner-up, Hill-Murray, before finishing fourth in the tournament.

As for Morinville he walks away with more than 250 career victories and in the process has coached some of the program’s elite talent. He coached former first-round pick and North Dakota star Brian Lee, who just finished his first season with the Tampa Bay Lightning following a trade from the Ottawa Senators.

Lee, who won Mr. Hockey as a senior, was a member of the four teams Morinville coached to the state tournament finals only to lose. Moorhead is a state record 0-7 in the state tournament finals having the most second place finishes in state history.

Moorhead returned to state for a second straight year after facing a turbulent year in 2009. The team was involved in a hazing investigation resulting in multiple suspensions for program not usually known for off-ice incidents.

Morinville was even suspended from the investigation and later in the year, more issues ensued with other players being suspended for other violations. Still, the Spuds reached the state tournament where they went winless for the first time in Morinville’s career at the event known as Minnesota’s crown jewel.

This year, with 12 returning seniors led by Bitzer, who won the Frank Brimsek Award for Minnesota’s best senior goaltender, the Spuds were just an overtime goal away from returning to the state title game.

“With my job, the time is right,” said Morinville, whose real profession is in the medical field. “There were times where I felt like George Jetson trying to walk the dog on the treadmill where sometimes you just felt like you had no control between my job and coaching.”

Chasing The Sun…

Don’t worry. Just because the season’s over we will still give you the Force fix you need.

We’ll be back next week with a bunch of items such as post-season grades, overall grades of players, who will be back next year and a few other things such as the USHL Futures Draft next Tuesday.

But for now, we’re going to focus on Zane Gothberg (North Dakota), who might have had the most profound interview of anyone last night.

“You want to win for yourself, you want to win for your guys, you want to win for your mother, you want to win for your grandma,” is what a teary-eyed Gothberg said 20 minutes following the Force’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Lincoln Stars in the Western Conference semifinals.

With that one quote, Gothberg managed to show why he is endearing to so many people.

Gothberg was one of the players this locker room rallied around at so many points this season because of the attitude he had towards things. He never tried to let the negative interfere with the team’s mentality.

He accomplished that goal by being what many have called “the backbone of our team” helping the Force through the worst start in franchise history to a fourth straight playoff appearance.

Guys in that locker room respect him because of it.

That’s what made the last two statements even more interesting and in truth, stronger.

If you’ve never met Kelly Gothberg, that’s a damn shame. She’s Gothberg’s mother and was honestly one of the more devout parents you’ll ever see. The woman made the drive from Thief River Falls, which is at least a four-hour round trip, frequently to watch her son play.

Spending a few minutes with the woman, you see where he gets its from. You see where he’s able to take any situation and find the good in it. Because Lord knows this family has been tested.

That leads to the final point in what I hope has not been a boring or poorly-written diatribe.

It has been mentioned a few times on this blog about how Gothberg lost his grandmother over the summer to various illnesses.

We all know death is never an easy thing to handle but more importantly, accept. Hearing this kid talk last night, you got the feeling it still is hard for him to handle.

Gothberg was already emotional and understandably so. But when he mentioned his grandmother, his voice was even shakier further stating how much he missed her but how much he really wanted to win for her.

People ask me what’s the most interesting thing about covering this team and it is moments like this. It is those moments where you see beyond a mask and you see the kind of person these guys really are.

At the end of the day, all Zane Gothberg is a kid who loves his teammates, his mother and his grandmother.

Even in a loss, hopefully that’s a gain for you Force fans out there.

Have a good weekend everybody.

Honestly…

OK Force fans. You know the situation. Win and your boys force a Game 5 and a chance at the Western Conference Finals.

Lose and the only season left is the one that involves golf clubs.

We’ve done previews for every game in the Force-Lincoln Stars’ Western Conference semifinal series. But for this one, we’re changing the format. We’ll look at offense, defense and goaltending. Though instead of looking at a player, we’re going to take a look at what the Force have to do right to keep the series alive or what the Stars have to do to end this bad boy for good.

Let’s begin.

OFFENSE:

What the Force have to do right: Score. Score early. Score often. Score at rate like Bernie Madoff was ripping off the Tri-State Area. That’s no joke. Goals have been at a premium for both teams and any team who can score first, as Lincoln proved in Game 4, certainly has an advantage. If the Force can get goals, especially from the BBC Line (Bryn Chyzyk (North Dakota)-Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth) and Colton Hargrove (Western Michigan), it makes this team that more dangerous. We know that, you know that and Ringo over there definitely knows that.

What the Stars have to do right: Find a way to own that first period. As we’ve mentioned, scoring helps. But something Stars forward Dominik Shine (Northern Michigan) said at Thursday’s practice is if the Stars play their game, they can control the tempo. That will be important given the Force are: A.) More desperate than an ABC show in its final season. B.) Have nothing to lose by trying everything possible to get going and C.) Are the kind of team that once they get momentum and build on it, they are harder to stop. If the Stars use that controlling, physical brand to establish their command, it increases the chances of a series-clinching victory. If not, then prepare for a Game 5.

DEFENSE:

What the Force have to do right: Clearing traffic in Zane Gothberg (North Dakota) is certainly a start. Gothberg’s view wasn’t clear when Lincoln scored its opening goal last game and it doesn’t help his case the Stars are basically a bunch of redwoods on skates given their height. Aside from clearing traffic in front of net, another thing to get right would be spacing. Lincoln uses its spacing on the power play but they stretch the ice when they operate in the opposition’s zone. If there’s a way for the Force to make the ice smaller and in Gothberg’s case, clearer, it will go a long way.

What the Stars have to do right: Keep making sure the Force do not get in good position for the rebounds. Stars goaltender Charles Williams (Ferris State) has been solid but if there’s a flaw, it would be the rebounds he allows. It just appears there have been more times where Lincoln’s defensemen can position themselves to not be vulnerable to a rebound giving up a goal. The Force must find a way to take advantage of those second and possible third chances. It’s pretty clear: The Force must capitalize like a second-grader on a spelling test.

GOALTENDING:

What the Force must do right: Truthfully? Just give Gothberg a chance to do his job. Much has been said about this team but one thing nobody can question is how Gothberg has performed these playoffs. Let Gothberg be himself and if that happens, the Force have more than just a chance at forcing a Game 5.

What the Stars must do right: Give Williams help around the net. When the Force buzz the net, that’s when they are at their strongest. If there’s a way to clear the net for Williams so he can make easier saves, they must do it. Otherwise, same thing that applied to Gothberg applies to Williams. Just let him keep doing his thing.

The Big Picture

Some people prefer to look at the big picture. Lincoln Stars’ defenseman Dax Lauwers is not one of those people.

Lauwers finds himself wanting to look at “the smaller picture” given the Stars are a win away from returning to the Western Conference Finals. If that happens, it would add to what has been a challenging but rewarding year for Lauwers.

He returned to Lincoln after spending his freshman year at Army. He left Army because the program’s post-graduation requirements of a five-year service commitment would have ended any chances he had of playing pro hockey.

“It was a real tough decision but I made the decision…because I didn’t want to be forced into not playing hockey,” Lauwers said after the Stars’ 3-1 win on Wednesday against the Force.  “I had a hard time putting a ticker on my hockey career. Coming back to this team, I loved it. I have a great billet family. I love what Lincoln is about. I love what this organization is about. We’ve been able to come together as a team and off all the teams I’ve been on, we are a tight-knit group.”

Lauwers’ hope is the tightness the Stars possess can withstand a desperate Force team looking to extend their season by at least one more game. They’ll find out in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, which are at 7:35 p.m. at Scheels Arena.

One of the reasons why the Stars are up 2-1 in this series has been Lauwers. At 6-3, 200 pounds he, in some cases, has towered over the Force’s smaller line-up given the team’s most productive line, has an average build of a 5-10 player who weighs around 165 pounds.

He has used his build to work forwards of any size in the corners reducing the Force’s game from that to being around the net to taking chances from the outside.

When you combine his size, his ability to punish anyone in his path and the fact he plays in Lincoln, Lauwers is basically ‘The Death Star.’

It is a plan which has worked in this series and a plan which has helped Lauwers quite a bit this year. He came back to Lincoln as a leader and as a player who could really guide his younger teammates.

“Really, that first game in the playoffs you get stuck looking at the big picture,” Lauwers said. “And for me, that wasn’t helping me that much. The second and third game I just tried to focus on next shift and focus on the little things. That’s what we’re doing a good job of as a whole.”

Lauwers feels by looking at the little things, it could help lead to something bigger such as a Western Conference Finals appearance of even a Clark Cup title.

Even when the playoffs are over, Lauwers will still be looking at the little things when it comes to mapping out the rest of his life.

The plan is to play college but he is going to take his time and choose a school which best suits him.

“We set a tone during summer workouts and said, ‘Hey we won’t be satisfied with nothing less than a Clark Cup,’” Lauwers said.  “We may be good in the standings but we are always going to work harder. As for personally, I had a great year at Army and had a lot of fun but I am real excited to continue on with hockey and that’s why I left Army. I am looking forward to playing at the college level and seeing where it goes from there.”

From The D…

Today is something bigger.

Lincoln Stars goaltender Charles Williams (Ferris State) knew his day was coming. He didn’t know when it’d come. He just knew when it came, it’d be something big. Today is the day as Williams has the chance to eliminate the Fargo Force from the Western Conference semifinals at 7:35 p.m. at Scheels Arena.

“Honestly, I thought there are a lot more worse things in life than not playing hockey and not getting your opportunity,” Williams said. “Everyday I got the picture that there would be something bigger for me. I feel like you can never get down on yourself.”

To know Williams’ story is to know the Stars’ season, which has been in some regards the Western Conference equivalent of the Green Bay Gamblers. It’s a season which saw the Stars draft Kevin Roy (Brown) not knowing what they’d expect and getting a player who scored 104 points making it one of the greatest seasons in USHL history.

It has been a year where first-year players such as forward Luke Johnson and defenseman Paul LaDue (both North Dakota) have blended with veterans like Dax Lauwers, Dominik Shine (Bowling Green) and Brent Tate (Northern Michigan) to have a mix of flash, panache and ferocity.

But for a team with offensive starpower, a defense where it appears missing a tooth or having a beard is the first form of membership, this was a team where goaltending was an issue.

The Stars had Jackson Teichroeb, who at times, played the part of a No.1 goaltender but there were moments of inconsistency. Yet it was in one of Teichroeb’s consistent moments where Stars coach Chad Johnson noticed something about Williams.

“Even when he wasn’t playing, which was about 12 or so games, he still kept working hard,” Johnson said. “It was something we all noticed.”

Eventually Johnson made the decision to run with a two-goaltender system and it led to Williams, who is from Canton, Mich., a Detroit suburb, becoming the team’s No. 1 starter.

It has been a choice Johnson and the Stars did not regret in the regular season and have certainly not regretted this postseason. Williams went 20-4-3 with a 2.61 goals against average, four shutouts and a .907 save percentage in the regular season.

He finished in the Top 10 among league goaltenders in wins, GAA, shutouts and save percentage.

Coming into the playoffs, it might not have dawned on some Williams was a Top 10 goaltender in the USHL. But it appears now people are getting the message as Williams has so far handled one of the toughest challenges in the league in the Force and their goaltender Zane Gothberg (North Dakota), who many consider the best in the league.

Gothberg has played two more games than Williams this postseason because Lincoln received a first-round bye. But to look at the numbers, they’ve been right there with each other.

Williams is 2-1 with a 1.62 GAA and a .933 save percentage while Gothberg is 3-2 with a 1.57 GAA and a .943 save percentage.

“This whole series, he has been great for us,” LaDue said following the team’s Game 3 win over the Force on Wednesday. “The second half of the year, he has stood on his head for us and he’s won games for us. He’s saved us multiple times and it has been great to have him back there.”

Spend time with this team, whether it be 10 minutes following a game or a full hour during a Stars practice, and it’s apparent they like each other.

There is no false sense of security when it comes to players getting along with one another.

Williams is an example of that unity. His Game 3 victory was followed by hugs and high-fives from teammates. Even in his post-game interview teammates were tapping him on the shoulder.

Lincoln’s Thursday practice ended with a shooter-goalie challenge and the winner was treated by Johnson to whatever they wanted for dinner. Teichroeb and Williams, two guys who were competing for the same spot earlier in the year, won the challenge by stonewalling everyone in their paths.

Williams, after every save late in the competition, mocked the forwards and practically every Minnesota high school hockey player by taking his fingers and touching the ice before sweeping his palm through the air.

It made his teammates, even the ones he stopped, laugh and enjoy the moment. It made Teichroeb celebrate with him near the net as if they just won the Clark Cup. It also made both goaltenders some pretty happy customers at dinnertime.

What could make for a stronger celebration deserving of maybe two more free dinners would be if Williams backstopped the Stars against what will be a desperate Force team trying to extend their season.

Trying to close out a series on the road and doing it in one of the league’s more hostile environments would shoot the Stars into the Western Conference Finals, a meteoric rise considering the franchise suffered one of its worst-ever seasons two years ago.

“It’s impressive,” Williams said about what he and the Stars have accomplished to this point. “I give all the glory to God and I just go with what he gives me. He gives me strength and I smile with it. The guys work hard for me and I work hard for them.”

Pulling off a two-year turnaround like that would be big.

It would also be the moment Williams was waiting for.

And, at least for now, it appears it was all worth the wait.

Confess…

Clutched inside the massive palms of Fargo Force defenseman Justin Wade was an iPhone 4 scrolling through a Twitter feed.

It was on this Twitter feed where Wade saw the comments of Boston Bruins fans who called Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward, who is black, the “n-word” for scoring a game-winning goal in Wednesday’s Game 7 victory.

As Wade looked at the Twitter profiles, he saw one of the people was wearing a Fighting Irish shirt. It gave him a face to the slurs and in Wade’s case the realization that even among fans of his future school, there are some people who may not be in his corner because he’s black.

“It doesn’t surprise me because there are people whether its on blogs or Twitter where you can be anonymous so it gives people that invisible shield of ‘You don’t know me,’” Wade said. “It gives people a little more balls to have that. Its something you are going to have to live with in terms of people who are backwards thinking and will say things like that. I don’t think they understand the impact it has on the younger generation or of any black athlete. Especially the ones coming into hockey.”

This latest incident keeps adding to what is becoming a stigma growing through the sporting world that maybe hockey and diversity might not work together after all.

It has been debated hockey is possibly more forward-thinking than its North American counterparts – the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball – when it comes to issues such as those surrounding the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community.

Hockey players, personnel and icons such as Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager Brian Burke, who’s son Brendan was gay, have said the NHL could be ready for its first openly-gay player in a few years.

But as hockey hopes to evolve to that point it still faces an issue when it comes the thought of anyone of African or Caribbean decent worrying about racial epithets. Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, in the course of two weeks, went from being victim of a banana peel thrown near him during a pre-season game to using a homophobic slur towards gay rights advocate and former New York Rangers forward Sean Avery.

Since then, the NHL has seen other issues such as Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban being the victim of a racial epithet or the controversial decision by Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres and his wife dressing in blackface as they were trying to look the part of music moguls/power couple, Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Down the hall from Wade at Scheels Arena was Lincoln Stars goaltender Charles Williams (Ferris State), who is also black. Williams, who is from the Detroit suburb of Canton, Mich., said he and his brother, Des Moines’ defenseman Wayland Williams, along with their parents have been subjected to racial slurs.

Williams said he found a way to deal with the negative comments.

“I just used it as motivation more than anything,” Williams said. “I have had a few incidents in the past and I’ve been able to put it to the side and use it as motivation. I just try to keep it away from my teammates and keep going steadfast in my path.”

Both Williams and Wade, who know each other well, acknowledged Ward was just someone doing his job and he shouldn’t be subjected to racial slurs whether they be on Twitter or anywhere else.

They also agreed a reality such as that may not happen right away. That there are some people who wouldn’t get the picture even if the flash was on.

But the hope is someday the only issue at hand is the game on the ice.

“I hope for Ward, hearing the racial slurs is motivation for him too,” Williams said. “He’ll probably do better than he did last year in the playoffs. Hearing things like this will probably just up his game even more.”

Keep’N It Real…

Even from the first sentence of the post-game interview, Fargo Force coach John Marks was honest in his assessment.

He said his team’s 3-1 loss to the Lincoln Stars was the result of many things. Marks started off by saying his team had a lack of urgency and it showed in the third period with the Stars outshooting the Force 13-4.

“I’ve seen us play better and I am not taking anything away from Lincoln,” Marks said. “But we are not playing as well as I’ve seen us play.”

The performance put the Force in a 2-1 series hole meaning if the Stars win Game 4 on Friday, the season is over and the Force will have been knocked out of the second round for a consecutive campaign.

Marks, during his post-game interview, talked about “a few players I was down on” referring to the team’s top line of Bryn Chyzyk (North Dakota), Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth) and Colton Hargrove (Western Michigan).

Coming into Wednesday’s game, the three combined to be the Force’s least productive line with two points through four playoff games with Chyzyk and Farley having the two points. Hargrove, specifically, had been struggling more than anyone as he hadn’t scored a point in his last eight games going back to the regular season.

For Hargrove, who didn’t get a point last night, it now extends his drought to nine games. It is the third time this season where he’s had a point drought of at least seven games. Hargrove finished the game as a minus-2 and had four shots on goal.

Chyzyk recorded a second straight game with a minus-2 rating making him minus-2 for the playoffs as he’s gone pointless in his last four games. It’s the third time Chyzyk has gone without a point in four games this season. Four games without a point is Chyzyk’s longest streak.

Farley, who led the team in scoring in the regular season, was also pointless going a minus-1 and is a minus-4 over the last two games. He does also not have a point in his last three games. It’s the third time this season Farley has had a streak of at least three games without a point. His longest streak of the year was six games.

To their credit, the three did spend time in Lincoln’s zone and had a few moments where it appeared as if they were going to create a scoring chance. The three combined to take nine or 39 percent of the Force’s shots.

So what did Marks have to say about the line’s performance?

“I thought they played harder,” Marks said. “But I don’t think they accomplished anything.”

Survival Of The Fittest…

A lot has changed since the last time the Force were at home.

They went to Lincoln and split the series at 1 with the Western Conference’s regular season champions. Now the Force find themselves two wins away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in four seasons.

With Game 3 starting at 7:05 p.m. tonight, here are some keys to look for:

ON OFFENSE:

STARS: Let’s forget about Kevin Roy (Brown), who led the league with 104 points this season and already has two in this series. Instead, focus on Stars captain Brent Tate (Bowling Green) who in essence is everything this series is about. Tate is a physical forward who doesn’t mind getting into it either with his mouth or his body. He likes playing mindgames and at the same time can put up points. He scored 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 45 games this season and had two assists last game. Think about Force forward Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth) and how he has a knack for putting up points and getting into a guy’s head. That’s what Tate can do and he’ll probably be doing it quite a bit over the next two games. Also, be wary of what he can do on the power play as he had 14 assists on the one-man advantage this year.

FORCE: Pick anyone between Bryn Chyzyk (North Dakota), Farley or Colton Hargrove (Western Michigan). It has been made extremely clear to all three, especially Hargrove, they need to pick things up in order for this team to go far. There are elements about playing Lincoln which suits aspects of all three players’ game. Chyzyk’s ability to transition defense into offense can come in handy against a team featuring one of the more potent lineups in the league. Farley, if he can also score, could do double damage drawing penalties against Lincoln which was the most penalized team in the league this season. Finally, Hargrove has the skill and the size to take anything Lincoln can give and vice-versa.

 

ON DEFENSE:

STARS: Through two games Stars’ captain Dax Lauwers has stayed out of the penalty box and he’ll need to do that tonight to increase his team’s chances of winning. Lauwers, who is 6-3 and 220 pounds, with his size alone can blanket the Force’s forwards which are considerably smaller. If Lauwers can blanket forwards, make life in the corners difficult and keep a clear crease for goaltender Charles Williams, it would certainly make life a lot easier for the Stars and more challenging for the Force.

FORCE: He isn’t talked about much but this is where a player like Willie Corrin (Minnesota-Duluth) could come in handy. Corrin has been one of this team’s better performers in the playoffs. He has a team-high plus-5 rating and has provided an offensive depth to a blueline which has put up nine points through four games. Corrin hasn’t registered a shot in this series but fired off six in two games against Sioux City. If Corrin can get points and continue his defense, it’ll go a long way.

 

ON GOALTENDING:

STARS: Williams might have come into this series with the most questions of any player and he’s easily silenced his critics. He’s been right there with Zane Gothberg (North Dakota) in terms of giving his team a chance and stopping shots. Guy took the Force to overtime in Game 1 and survived a one-goal game, a Stars win, in Game 2. It’s clear CW3 is ready for whatever challenge comes his way. How he’ll perform in Game 3 will really decide how this series will go. Eyes might focus on Roy and others, but this series will either be won or lost by Williams.

FORCE: To a degree, the same goes for Gothberg. The Force’s success does hinge on how well he performs. Gothberg has been the league’s best goaltender judging by statistics in the playoffs leading in virtually every category imaginable. What he needs to do is simple. If he can stop shots, and his defense can cut off angles, he’s extremely hard to beat. Having Gothberg gives the Force an edge over so many teams in the league. It’s just one question remains: Will the Force push the Stars to the edge come Friday or will it be the other way around?

Seize The Day…

Today’s print story about Fargo Force forward Colton Hargrove (Western Michigan) took a look at his recent drought.

Hargrove has gone eight games (four regular season; four playoff) without picking up a single point. It’s something he’s noticed but it is also something others such as Force coach John Marks have noticed.

Hargrove, a second-year forward, is in his third stretch this season where he’s gone pointless for seven or more games.

“It’s kind of been all year,” Marks said about Hargrove’s struggles. “You play hard, have success and because of the success, you stop doing what gave you success. You wonder why you are not being successful and bottom line is you brought your game down. Then coaches get on players. Some respond, they do good and then they drop off again. Like almost needing one of those things you need on a dog for an invisible fence to keep prodding them. I know it sounds harsh, but we need him to provide.”

Marks was critical, yet honest about Hargrove’s performance. But he did more than just talk about Hargrove. Hargrove’s entire line, which features Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth) and Bryn Chyzyk (North Dakota), has underperformed in the playoffs.

The BBC Line (Bryn-Bug (Farley’s nickname)-Colton) has scored two points which is a change from the 146 they scored in the regular season. Just to give some more perspective, defenseman and playoff savant Neal Goff has two points by himself.

Farley said this led Marks to give some perspective by telling the trio if they play like this in college next year, they wouldn’t be playing at all. When asked if hearing that scared him Farley said, “Yes, it was huge.”

“We all looked at each other and said we want to change and we want to do it now,” Farley said. “We’re going up against the best player in the league (Kevin Roy) and this would be a good time to turn it around.”

Farley and Hargrove explained why the group has suffered such as massive turnaround compared to beginning of the year.

Farley, before suffering a foot injury, was on pace to score 88 points but still finished with 59 points. Hargrove was serving his dual role of a physical, point-producing forward who could be an enforcer why Chyzyk served as a blend of both while adding a two-way ability to make the line complete.

He said what changed was the line feels that it cannot take the risks like it used to.

“They (Lincoln) knows we are the top line and they are going to have their best forwards and defensemen on us. I feel like we cannot take many chances,” Farley said. “Its different when you are going up against a kid like Kevin Roy’s line. We turned the puck over on Saturday and Kevin Roy goes down for a 2-on-1 and you know he’s going to score, that’s been our big problem. We’ve been turning the puck over trying to make that extra play.”

Ever True To Brown…

Shortly after the Lincoln Stars captured the Western Conference regular season title, we got a chance to sit down with forward Kevin Roy (Brown).

Roy scored 104 points the regular season making it one of the best individual seasons in the USHL’s history. We asked Roy about his historic season, why he takes a selfless approach towards his team and we asked if he was drafted by an NHL team, would he renege on going to college to play Major Juniors.

Roy and his teammates enter tonight’s Western Conference semifinals tied at 1 against the Fargo Force.

Here’s what Roy had to say about a variety of subjects last time he was in Fargo:

Q: What do you have to say about your regular season and everything you accomplished?

A: I don’t know. I don’t think I really realize it right now. I was just focused on the team and getting first place. Getting the best position for playoffs. I don’t really want to think about it and I want to focus on what’s to come with the playoffs. The playoffs is why you play for the whole year and we want to focus on the playoffs and do something great and special as a team.

 

Q: I get the feeling you really care about your team and your teammates.

A: I think our team is so close. We’re brothers and everyone did their part. We talk about (North Dakota commits) Luke (Johnson) or Paul (Ladue) or Ralfs Freiburgs (Bowling Green). Those guys we don’t really talk about are the ones that block shots, kill penalties and our captains, Dax (Lauwers) and Brent Tate (Bowling Green), are awesome. They’ve been putting the team together. I think the fact we care about each other and the result of our teammates is what makes us that much better and its why we all have success individually but also as a team.

 

Q: Why do you take a “team-first” approach considering what you’ve done individually has been impressive?

A: I’ve been raised that way I guess. Always think about team first and when I play I like to score goals and I want to be the one who scores an important goal. I like to do it not just for me but for the team. If I would have success as an individual, it wouldn’t be special. Some players have a great season but nothing to compete for. They tell themselves they have to get more points for a good season. The season of the Stars really matters. It would be selfish to talk about me first and not realize that without my teammates and coaches these opportunities I’ve had wouldn’t even exist.

 

Q: Finally, we are going to get you to talk about yourself (at this point Roy starts laughing). Let’s say you do get taken in this summer’s NHL Draft, would you continue with your college plans or would you go Major Junior if the club that drafted you suggested you go?

A: I think for everyone that has talked about (the NHL Draft) thinks about it. I don’t think there is any way I would go play Major Junior. I had the chance two years ago and over Christmas (he was being heavily recruited by The QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts over the Christmas Break) and I really wanted to do that, I’d have done it before. For me, the college route is better for me to get stronger and bigger instead of playing 72 games and always being on the road. If I want to develop like a pro and play like a pro, the college game is better for me. I have spent the last three or four years of my life with my brother (his brother, Derick, is a goaltender committed to Brown) to attend a college and I wouldn’t change it to go the Major Junior route.