On Saturday morning, with the Roseau Rams high school team getting primed for their first home game of the season, goalie Mike Lee came to the rink early in search of coach Scott Oliver.
Lee had some news.
“He wanted me to be the first to know,” Oliver said.
Lee, who beat out three senior goaltenders last season to lead Roseau past rival Moorhead in the sectional championships (a sparkling 1-0 shutout), then to three more victories for the state title, had verbally committed to play for and attend St. Cloud State University when his high school career is finished.
The commitment was the culmination of months of phone calls and decisions. After his performance in the state tournament, attention from suitors became more regular. The St. Cloud Huskies were the winners, thanks to the team’s program and conference affiliation.
“The WCHA, that’s the league kids around here want to play in,” said Lee, who counts former University of North Dakota goalie Jordan Parise as a favorite. “Coach (Bob) Motzko is putting together a great program and it’s something I want to be a part of.”
Lee is already being tabbed as the successor to current Huskies goalie Jase Weslosky, who was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2006. Coach Oliver praised his goalie’s athleticism and competitiveness, not to mention the fact he’s a straight-A student – which is good, because his mom, Cindy, teaches fifth grade at Roseau Elementary.
While he technically worked at the Cenex C-store gas station this summer, Lee spent most of his time in the weight room, or attending goalie camps.
“I probably made, like, $400 this summer,” Lee laughed. In the end, however, the kid who guarded the state champion’s net as a sophomore and hopes to go into the medical field should the NHL not work out, is on his way to St. Cloud, five hours south of Roseau.
“I’m very happy for Mike,” Oliver said. “He was like a duck – on the surface he’s calm, but under the water his legs were going. You could tell a great weight had been lifted off his chest.”
That lifting of pressure was evident on the ice Saturday, as well, with Lee shutting out the Totino-Grace Eagles en route to a 4-0 Rams victory.
“I definitely felt a lot more comfortable in net,” Lee said.
Once again, the Rams got scores from defenseman Aaron Ness and right winger Ben Nelson, not to mention the first-ever varsity goals for defender Mike Koenig and forward Kevin Erickson.
But the goals didn’t come easy – Eagles goalie Tyler Olson was on the top of his game, keeping it scoreless through two periods.
“He was making some crazy saves,” said Lee, who faced just 12 shots in the contest. “But it was just a matter of time before the floodgates opened.”
And they did in the third period, as the Rams put four past Olson, including two power play goals and a shorthanded tally. The final shot register for Roseau was 42.
“We didn’t give up much,” said Oliver, who told the troops not to panic after the first two scoreless frames. “I told them, ‘keep the dial right where it’s at.’ ”
With rival Moorhead lurking in the not-too-distant future, it’s sound advice for the Rams to remember.
Click HERE to read last week’s Year of the Ram story.
The Hockey News will be following the Roseau Rams high school hockey team every week, chronicling its journey on the road back to the state championship and providing an inside look at what its like to be a teenager on one of the most fabled varsity teams in America.
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