Pro-file: Andy Roach
you had to pick one American skater to take a penalty shot, who
would it be? Tony Amonte? Jeremy Roenick? Mike Modano? John Leclair?
to differ. After the last 10 days, the easy choice here is Andy
Roach. The former Ferris State blueliner, who earned second-team
All-America honors in 1996 and '97, has spent the last five years
playing in the obscurity of the German Elite League. Last week,
playing in a tournament filled with NHL players, Roach led Team
USA to a bronze medal and helped the Americans clinch a berth
in the 2006 Olympics.
was good throughout the tournament, finishing with five points,
but he made his headlines with two game-clinching shootout goals.
He was the only scorer in the shootout victory over the home team,
the Czech Republic, and gave the U.S. the bronze medal with his
shootout goal against Slovakia.
College Hockey: What a wild ride these past few weeks must have
been. Can you take us through it?
Roach: "It was great. I didn’t have too many
expectations going into the tournament. I wasn’t sure if
I’d be playing in all the games or how it would work out.
But every game we seemed to get better and better, and I think
the real turning point for our team was when we beat the Russians.
the Czechs was great, and the icing was being able to take the
bronze. The last week for me has really been a roller coaster.
For me, it’s been the best time playing hockey in my life.
I haven’t had an opportunity to play with and against players
of that caliber, so it was a good tool for me to judge where I
For folks who have lost track of you after your time at Ferris
State, walk us through these past few years and how you ended
up in Europe.
"Right after college I went and played in the IHL, and the
second year I made the All-Star Game. I didn’t get the interest
I wanted from the NHL, though. By that time I was 26 and I decided
to go over to Europe. I went right to the German Elite League
and played one year for a team called Krefeld. Then I signed with
Mannheim. I’ve been there for the last four years and I
have two more years on my contract."
You might be sick of this question after the last week, but do
you have a desire to come back and play in North America?
"Before this tournament people would ask me that, and honestly
I was content in Germany. It’s a little older league, and
it’s not scouted the way maybe the Finnish league is. It’s
a great league, and it’s been great for me, but it doesn’t
get the attention from the scouts.
after playing in this tournament and getting the exposure to this
level of the game, I think it has opened some more doors for me,
possibly. The only downfall is that it looks like there may be
a lockout in the NHL this year, at least at the beginning of the
year, and that may hold things up. But there definitely was some
interest at the tournament."
I imagine your German contract has some sort of out clause if
the NHL comes calling?
"There’s no NHL release clause in my contract, actually.
But I have a really good relationship with the GM in Mannheim.
If there’s an opportunity, I think that’s something
I could work with him on."
A lot of us who watched you in college thought it was a typo when
we saw you listed as a forward for the World Championship. Was
that a change you’ve made in Germany?
"Two years ago in Mannheim we had a lot of injuries, and
I played most of the year at forward. I ended up leading the team
in goals for the year, actually. Since then there has been an
occasional game or two when I’ve moved up. I did play forward
a bit in the Deutschland Cup [this winter] when Peter Laviolette
was the coach. Going into this tournament I think Peter had me
penciled in as a forward, but he knew I could play both positions.
He asked, ‘What do you feel is your natural position,’
and I said defense. I think I play much better when I’m
So what’s this special shootout move of yours?
"In Germany all of our games that end in ties go to shootouts,
so in the last five years I’ve been involved in quite a
few. I work on things all the time in practice, and there’s
a few things I try to do. It’s not any magic trick; just
a lot of practice and reading what the goaltender is doing. It’s
nothing that anyone else couldn’t do."
Do you think shootouts would be a good addition to the North American
"It’s great for the fans, but as far as determining
points, I’d rather see a few other rule changes –
getting rid of the red line, increasing the size of the offensive
and defensive zones."
You’d think with this shootout reputation you have, you’d
like them more.
"They would make it better for myself, but I think the general
consensus of the players is that they aren’t a great way
to decide games. It’s like a baseball game being decided
by a home run contest."
Were you guys well aware of the fact that the U.S. needed a good
result in the World Championship to qualify for the Olympics in
"We knew there was pressure. There were a few other players
who could have been there – probably guys who will be asked
to play in the Olympics – but we knew as a group what we
needed to do."
The Olympics could always go to a shootout. Think you might get
"You never know. Obviously I’d love to be there. I
still don’t know if they know whether there will be NHL
players involved. It worked out great last time in Salt Lake,
but having the Olympics in North America made it easy. The NHL
didn’t have to shut down for too long. It might be different
being in Europe, especially if there is a lockout. Obviously I’d
love to be a part of it."
Looking back at your time at Ferris, how did that time help you
"I probably played a lot more at Ferris than I would if I
had gone to Michigan or Michigan State, one of the bigger schools.
I had a great opportunity at Ferris. The whole experience up there
and the exposure I got was great. Those four years really helped
me develop as a player."