Of course, more than a couple of his Wolverine
teammates could say the same thing after the team hung 15
goals in wins over Alabama-Huntsville and Connecticut last
weekend. But among the Big Blue’s big scorers, Rohlfs
is the only one who’s been shuffled between forward
and defenseman throughout his college career, always filling
to role of “role player” while others star.
So far this season, he’s found a home
on a line with T.J. Hensick and Kevin Porter, which, trust
us, is a good place to be. Serving as their big-body, defensive-minded
complement, Rohlfs picked up two goals and two assists against
UAH and UConn. After scoring only two goals in 40 games
last season and never eclipsing the 13 points he got as
a freshman, Rohlfs almost apologized for his success last
“I’m just out there to support
them and let them do what they do,” the 6-foot-3,
234-pounder said. “If I chip one in, that’s
“I know that if I make it easy on them
by creating space or tying up two guys in the corner, they’ll
find me. One of my goals, I was just standing in front of
the net and T.J. got it to me and I tipped it in. And then
T.J. is so fast, you can just get the puck up the ice to
him and you have an assist.”
Rohlfs came to Michigan as a forward, but
played defense in a pinch during the Great Lakes Invitational
his sophomore season because the Wolverines had players
at the world junior tournament. He went back to forward
after that, but started his junior season on the blue line,
then went back to forward late in the season. He’s
entrenched up front now – “We have good depth,
so it would take a lot of injuries for me to go back there,”
he said – and he hopes his partnership with Hensick
and Porter is permanent.
“My whole life, I’ve been taught
that the team comes first,” Rohlfs said. “When
I went back on D, I didn’t really know what was going
on, but the coaches told me it was what the team needed.
So I did it – just like a lot of guys here do what
they can for the team.
“But this is fun. I like challenges.
I don’t want to get too excited, because if I change
my mind-set, I wouldn’t be doing the things that got
me the goals, like being physical.”
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE CCHA
Freshman foray: Joe
Palmer had a strange opening weekend of college hockey,
earning a 1-0 shutout in his debut, then losing a 7-6 decision
the following night. The Ohio State freshman goalie had
a bit of trouble maintaining an even keel against Lake Superior
“It was such an emotional high Friday
night,” said Palmer, expected to be one of the best
rookie netminders in the country. “The team plays
well, you play well, you get a shutout. Then Saturday night
comes, and you feel like you’re just as focused, but
you get out on the ice, and it’s almost like you’re
unfocused because you psyched yourself up so much.
“It was just one of those games where
the puck hits you funny, and you can’t get a feel
for the way the game’s going to go.”
Palmer played plenty of exhibitions against
college programs as last year’s starter for the U.S.
under-18 team, but he admitted the situation is different
“You’re in a league, fighting
for points,” he said. “And you’re expected
to win now. Last year, if you come in and play well and
lose by a goal, it wasn’t that bad. But there are
whole different expectations now.”
Another Buckeye newcomer, Tommy Goebel, scored
the team’s only goal in Friday’s win. He transferred
from Michigan State after the 2004-05 season.
Goebel and Palmer face a major challenge Friday
and Saturday, as Minnesota heads to Columbus a week before
its football team does the same. Rally towels will be distributed
at Value City Arena, and the OSU band is slated to perform
Script Ohio on the ice.
“Minnesota is a hockey superpower,”
Bronco Bustin': Western Michigan
is tied for first place in the CCHA after last weekend’s
split with Michigan State. And while the Broncos probably
won’t be on top when March arrives, coach Jim Culhane
likes his squad.
“We’re a work in progress to find
out who we are,” Culhane said. “I’d like
to see people walk out of our building and say we were well-prepared,
disciplined and worked extremely hard. And I thought we
were solid in those areas this weekend.
“I don’t know if we have a 20-goal
scorer sitting in the locker room right now, but that’s
why you play the games. We’ll find out over the next
couple of months.”
Having lost offensive mainstay Brent Walton
– a 20-goal scorer the last two seasons – to
graduation, most preseason prognostications had the Broncos
in the CCHA cellar. Perhaps Sunday’s home victory
over MSU is a signal of better things for the program. Or
maybe it was just Lawson Arena magic. WMU is 6-2-1 in its
last nine home games against the Spartans.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
Stampede (Fri.-Sat.) Boy, what a weekend it will be in CCHA barns,
including the big RedHawk/Wolverine tilts in Ann Arbor.
But you can’t beat the quantity of good hockey
in Omaha, where the annual Maverick Stampede has a
decent field that could result in an intraleague final.
Northern Michigan plays UMass Lowell in the opener,
and host UNO faces Niagara in the other semifinal.
Keep an eye on Niagara’s Ted Cook and Les Reaney.
They’re the real deal.
While You’re There: For some
reason, there seems to be a correlation between hockey
folks and country music. These people will be happy
to know that Rascal Flatts is in town Thursday night
at the Qwest Center
State sophomore J.T. Dahlinger must be a
big man on campus. Not only did he have a goal and
two assists in last weekend’s sweep of Mercyhurst,
but he freakin’ wrote “The Catcher in
CCHA’s nonconference scheduling last weekend.
Of eight teams in action outside the league, five
took on squads from the CHA or Atlantic Hockey. Haven’t
seen that many cupcakes since looking at Wisconsin’s
• Can’t wait for all the nonconference
action this weekend. On the slate: Notre Dame and Bowling
Green head to Boston College and Providence for a game against
each, Minnesota visits Ohio State for a set, Alaska hosts
the first half of the Governor’s Cup series against
Alaska Anchorage, Lake Superior State plays two at Clarkson,
and Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Michigan are in the Maverick
Stampede field along with Niagara and UMass Lowell.
• The Notre Dame vs. Providence game
should be interesting, as Paul Pooley, who coached the Friars
for 11 seasons, returns to PC as a second-year assistant
with the Irish. ... Minnesota will be the first WCHA team
to play OSU at Value City Arena, which opened in 1999. (Of
course, several WCHA teams have played in the VCA. Remember
the 2005 Frozen Four?)
• For all of you whose chests swell
with CCHA pride, here are the Commissioners’ Cup games
with pertinence to the league this weekend: UAA at UAF (Fri.),
Minnesota at OSU (Fri.), BGSU at Providence (Fri.), Notre
Dame at Providence (Sat.) and LSSU at Clarkson (Sat.). Go,
• Miami senior forward Matt Christie
is expected to play against Michigan after sitting out three
games for precautionary reasons with a “very minor”
upper-body injury, according to a team official. That’s
good news because the RedHawks have lost 19 straight games
at Yost Ice Arena, and are 2-40-1 there overall.
• Notre Dame just started a stretch
of seven straight games away from home. On the other hand,
Alaska is opening with seven straight home games (if you
count its exhibition against Western Ontario). The last
time the Nanooks opened with seven in a row in Fairbanks
was 1993-94, coach Tavis MacMillan’s senior season.
• INCH spoke with Palmer moments after
the team’s picture was taken. “I jelled my hair
up a little,” he said.
• Notre Dame defenseman Luke Lucyk,
who played 44 games over the past two years with the Fighting
Irish, has decided to spend this season with Tri-City in
the USHL, then return to South Bend as a junior next year.
ND loses several upperclassman defenders after this season,
and coach Jeff Jackson reportedly supported Lucyk’s
• Ferris State has been swarmed over
with injuries, including serious problems for seniors Mark
Bomersback (broken leg) and Jeremy Scherlinck (knee). “It’s
been one thing after another,” FSU coach Bob Daniels
said. “It’s almost been like a playoff run with
a rash of injuries to key players, and it’s only October.
I’m hoping something positive will come out of this.
We played the heck out of our freshmen (against Union) –
in crucial situations – and I was buoyed by some of
the things I saw from them. We went into the season not
really knowing what we had with our freshman class, but
we came out of the weekend thinking, ‘Hey, maybe we
have a little more than we thought.’”
• Miami fired 64 shots on goal during
Saturday’s 3-1 win over Canisius. The school record
for SOGs is 83, set against Cincinnati’s club team
on Oct. 20, 1978 – Miami’s first game as a varsity
• Alaska set a school record with six
power-play goals (in 10 chances) during Saturday’s
8-4 win over Air Force.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report