Adam Knochenmus and Tyler Landman of Roseau attack the Thief River Falls net. (Photo by Connie Koenig)
Jim Lundbolm is now in his 21st season as an assistant coach with Roseau. Like many in town, he is a graduate of the team himself, as is his nephew Andy, now in his third campaign as an assistant.
After coaching in the Twin Cities for eight years, Jim returned to the town and team he loved. He also opened Jim’s Fishing Headquarters, a convenience store with bait and tackle, which he ran for 15 years.
“You have so many good memories,” Lundbolm said of the reason so many return to Roseau. “You’d like to give your kids those same opportunities.”
And many of those opportunities came through hockey.
“Everybody got something out of the program,” he continued. “Camaraderie, championships, discipline…it’s good to give back some of what the community gave to you.”
Since the school’s first state championship in 1946, Roseau has been like a pleasant undertow; not many people leave without coming back.
It seems as though there is always an Olson, Erickson, Baumgartner or Lundbolm somewhere on the roster, or about to join it.
“Three generations have gone through since 1946,” Lundbolm noted. “And you see the same names back then that you do now.”
The guys wearing Roseau jerseys these days certainly started their season off right.
Fifty-four seconds into the first game of the campaign, the Rams found themselves in the driver’s seat. That’s when senior right winger Ben Nelson completed a one-timer past Thief River Falls goalie Zane Gothberg for the opening score in an eventual 4-2 Rams victory over the hometown Prowlers.
Naturally, coach Scott Oliver will take the win, but he does so with a grain of salt.
“The effort was there,’ Oliver said, “but (the Rams) have to realize, they’re going to get every team’s best this year. Roseau’s always had a target and now it’s bigger. Thief River Falls was very well prepared.”
No. 1 in the pre-season state rankings, Roseau was paced by a two-goal, three-point night by standout defenseman Aaron Ness and two points each from Nelson and sophomore left winger Adam Knochenmus.
“(Ness) was head and shoulders above everyone else,” said Oliver of the University of Minnesota commit.
Not that the game was flawless. Oliver saw too many neutral zone turnovers from his charges and the Rams gave up that second Prowlers goal with just 11 seconds left in the middle frame.
“Those are the goals you hate to give up as a coach,” Oliver noted.
Nevertheless, Roseau’s pedigree won the day.
“We won because of our talent,” Lundbolm added. “Not necessarily because we hit on all cylinders.”
Up next on the slate are the Totino-Grace Eagles, who travel to Roseau Saturday for the Rams’ home opener. Totino-Grace boasts a blue-chipper of their own in 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward Nick Nagel.
For the Rams, Thief River Falls represented their second-shortest road trip of the season (archrival Warroad is closest). As with any other hockey team, the Rams get mighty hungry after games, so the bus usually stops somewhere along the way home for a quick bite. On Tuesday, it was a choice of Taco John’s or Subway. The players get about 25 minutes to get off the team’s signature yellow school bus and chow down before the journey home continues.
And this isn’t a discipline thing; no matter how highly ranked the Rams are, they’re still student athletes with school in the morning and the nights can’t get any later than they need to be.
“They’ve still got homework to do,” Oliver said.
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.
For more great stories and features like this, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.