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As the 2012-13 high school hockey season begins, the Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders ice hockey team looks to improve upon the 13-11-1 record posted in the 2011-12 season. That season included advancing to the third round of the OHSAA State Hockey Tournament before being eliminated by eventual state semifinalist Hunting Valley University School.
Head coach: Ben Barlow, 11th year.
Coaching Staff: Kevin Burroughs, Tom Fisher, Rob Nyitray, Brent Pfeiffer.
General Outlook for 2012-2013: "The players and coaches are eager to begin the regular season. This season's team is fast and so far is demonstrating a strong skill level which should make for a fast, uptempo, aggressive style of play in all three zones of the ice. The team understands that we need to improve every day and stay focused on our goals of playing well enough to achieve our first team goal: to become the White East Division champions."
Forwards: Colin Berger, Okko Boger, Gordie Fisher, Logan Grootegoed, Mike Kenney, Kyle Manning, Matt Marniella, Dontae Montemayor, Lyndon Rainey, Scott Rainey, Gabe Smith, Christian Strahan.
Defensemen: Mitch Fisher, Mitchell Francis, Gregg Martin, Jake Schmauch.
Goalies: Nate Grootegoed, Jared Fischer.
Promising Newcomers: "This year's freshman class has depth and talent," Barlow said. "Freshman defenseman Mitchell Francis had a very good preseason. Mitchell skates very well and the coaches are pleased to see how he has handled himself with poise and confidence.
"Freshmen forwards Matt Marniella and Lyndon Rainey are already showing they can help create scoring opportunities for their linemates. Both players recorded goals during the preseason and have adjusted to our team's systems very well.
"Okko Boger, an AFS student from Finland, is a great addition to our team. Okko is a talented all-around player who demonstrates great stick-handling abilities, a quick release on his shot, and a strong offensive awareness that helps him create numerous scoring opportunities for his linemates and himself."
Source of Optimism: "I love our schedule this season -- we will play just under 35 games heading into the OHSAA state tournament," Barlow said." The White East Division is very competitive and our non-league and tournament schedules will challenge our team night in and night out. I am confident that our upperclassmen and team leaders will help us navigate successfully through the season. Junior Nate Grootegoed is playing very well in net and senior Kyle Manning will put a lot of pressure on the opposing team's defensemen. Kyle, our team captain, is a fast player with a very good offensive skill set. Kyle and his teammates are playing very aggressively in the offensive zone which hopefully translates into high-scoring, exciting games for the Rough Riders."
Cause for Concern: "This season's team has seven newcomers on an 18-player roster. The new players must develop their skills quickly to stay up with opponents and compete at the high school level. Year in and year out, we are a team that relies on freshmen to learn our style of play at a fast pace and contribute on the score sheet."
Did you know?
n The 2012-2013 Roosevelt Rough Riders ice hockey season is the team's 41st season.
n Assistant coach Kevin Burroughs is an alumnus of the program and is currently a trainer in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.