By Mason Lyttle
JANESVILLE, WI – The Janesville Jets, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that defenseman Adam Roeder has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Northern Michigan Wildcats of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
Roeder (5’11”/185), the 147-game Jet veteran, spent his entire NAHL career in Janesville, and was voted captain by his teammates at the beginning of the 2016-17 season. The St. Louis native wrapped up his Jets career with an impressive 32-point season and was named to the 2017 NAHL Robertson Cup All-Tournament Team with seven assists in nine playoff games.
“Adam is a great kid who might be the best example of what this league and this team aim to do,” said fifth-year head coach and general manager Joe Dibble. “He has fought so hard over his career to achieve what he has. In his time with us we’ve watched him develop as a player and as a human being, and he obviously proved that by leading this team to Duluth. He leads with respect for his teammates, his coaches, and the game.”
Roeder, who set a franchise record this year in career goals from a defenseman with 15, began his junior career with the NA3HL’s St. Louis Jr. Blues, where he tallied 31 points in 45 games in the 2013-14 season. That offensive production put him on the Jets’ radar. He signed a tender contract and played in four affiliate games in the 2013-14 season. Roeder said he knew from the start that Janesville would be the team to help him advance.
“The Jets have done everything for me,” he said. “I tendered four years ago and played just a few games, but I knew at the start that coach Dibble would do everything he could to get me a Division I scholarship and help me grow into a contributor in this league.”
Roeder attributed much of his development to his assistant coaches in Janesville, who primarily work with the defenseman. Erik Largen was the assistant for Roeder’s start in Janesville and now will face Roeder as an assistant coach for the WCHA’s Alaska Nanooks.
“The three assistant coaches I’ve had in the past three years—coach Largen, coach [Cody] Campbell, and coach [Kyle] Forte—I can’t thank them enough as well. They all worked with the defensemen and helped me develop into the player I am.”
This season, Roeder led Jets skaters with a +29 mark, and alongside partner Blake Wareham, was often tapped for important minutes in key situations. The confidence required to shut down opposing attacks in the most pivotal moments was Roeder’s biggest overall growth, he said.
“Coming in as a first-year guy, it’s easy to get nervous or tense and start gripping the stick too tight,” said Roeder. “You’re often scared to make mistakes. Over my three years, my confidence has grown and I now know I can be the player who the coaches want over the boards in the big situations. If you stick with it and listen to your coaches, who are only trying to develop you, the sky’s the limit.”
The Wildcats play at the 4,000-person Berry Events Center in Marquette, Michigan, in the state’s upper peninsula. Northern Michigan has a storied past, featuring three Frozen Four appearances and a 1991 national championship. In April, the Wildcats tapped former Minnesota Gophers assistant Grant Potulny as the third head coach in school history. Roeder has an interesting opportunity awaiting him in Marquette: start a college hockey career with a program turning a new page.
“The [Wildcats] coaches respect that I stuck through the three years in this league and trusted the process to get to this point,” said Roeder. “I think I’ll have a great relationship with these coaches as a freshman. They want to change their style a bit to more of what Minnesota plays: moving the puck and scoring more goals. That’s what I’m most excited about. I can’t wait to contribute to a program with new coaches and be a part of a new era.”
Just days ago, Roeder, like his fellow age-out teammates, played his final game of junior hockey as the Jets fell to the eventual Robertson Cup Champion Lone Star Brahmas, 3-1 in Game 2 of the Semi-Finals series. Though that loss still stings, he said he could not be more excited to finally achieve his goal of becoming a Division I player.
“To be honest, when I committed, I was at a loss for words,” Roeder said. “I have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into this game. Losing in the Semi-Finals my first year, losing in the first round last year to the same team, and losing again this year in the Semi-Finals…there have been a lot of growing pains, let’s just say that. It’s all worth it in the end, though. The brothers I’ve made relationships with over the last three years are incredible. These are the guys I’ll get together with down the road and reminisce about the junior days, staying up playing Xbox, goofing off, and winning games and making postseason runs. It’s a great thing to be able to commit here in my last season as a Jet. It’s the perfect story to be able to do this with the greatest team I’ve ever played with.”
Roeder becomes the 11th player of the 2016-17 Janesville Jets to commit to a Division I program, joining Derek Schaedig (Harvard), Blake Wareham (Canisius), Adrian Holesinsky (Maine), Jakov Novak (Bentley), Chris Dodero (American International), Cole Paskus (UMass Lowell), Colin Felix (UMass Amherst), Jack Gates (Colorado College), Michael Maloney (Brown University), and Joey Abate (Wisconsin).
Contact the Janesville Jets’ front office at (608) 752-JETS, or go to www.janesvillejets.com for offseason news, including player camps, season ticket information, and sponsorship opportunities. Stay connected to the Jets through Facebook (/janesvillehockey) and Twitter (@JanesvilleJets1).
(Photograph courtesy of Kim Kowalski, Gametime Sports Photos)