It”s obvious to anyone who watches Michigan hockey practice that defenseman Brandon Rogers is having the time of his life. The New England native is always one of the last players to leave the ice after practice, sometimes spending up to 30 extra minutes refining his skills or just playing the game he loves. Rogers” passion for hockey has spread to his family, as the sport has become a common bond for him and his parents.
“My dad never played hockey, but as soon as I started, he picked it up and played Sunday morning men”s hockey,” Rogers said. “Even now he goes to high school games back home because he can”t watch me all the time. My mom actually just started to play hockey two weeks ago. She got all the gear and is in a women”s league now at home, so it”s pretty funny.”
When Rogers arrived on campus this past fall, he knew that he would be accompanied by nine other freshman hockey players. He didn”t know that halfway through his first season he would have nine brothers.
“It”s a great mix of guys,” Rogers said. “The coaches did a great job of getting us together, because from the first day we were all great friends. We were doing everything together, and we still do it now. There are no cliques. Everyone hangs together.”
While the entire group spends most of its time “finding ways to kill time” together, Rogers has perfected the art of slipping away.
“He”ll tell us one thing and he”ll go somewhere else,” fellow freshman Michael Woodford said. “He”ll be hanging out with the nicest girl on campus, and he”ll tell us that he went to go eat or something. He gets all prepped up in his pink shirts. He has the long hair. He”s just a sweetheart to all the girls. They all love him.
“He has two wives, so watch out for that. I won”t say the names.”
Rogers is not surprised or annoyed by these comments by his teammates it”s all a part of brotherhood.
“That”s how we get each other going,” Rogers said. “We drop little comments like that. We do it in the lockerroom, too try to get each other in trouble.”
Rogers, or “the Rodgmeister” as his teammates call him, hails from Rochester, N.H. and attended a small prep school a far cry from his current setting at Michigan.
“That”s way up in the sticks, up in the woods there,” Woodford joked. “This is his first time being away in the big city. He”s the typical mold of a prep-school boy. He wears his nice, little shirts all the time.”
Said Rogers in response: “That”s what everybody seems to think, but it”s not too bad. There were 500 kids (in my high school), and obviously coming here there”s a pretty big difference. I”m glad I went to a college that had a big population, because the atmosphere is awesome. Everything is better here than it is out east.”
Drafted by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Draft, Rogers never considered choosing major junior hockey instead of playing at the college level.
“This is the best place to develop,” Rogers said. “And if hockey doesn”t work out, you can”t get better education and hockey combined.”
Rogers” collegiate career began on a promising note, as the freshman started the season paired with Mike Komisarek on the Wolverines” top defensive pairing. But his inexperience showed in Michigan”s early contests, and he was a healthy scratch for a five-game stretch in November.
“Not unlike any other young defenseman, he”s going to make mistakes costly mistakes,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
“(College hockey) was a lot different for me,” Rogers said. “(In high school), if I made a mistake I could recover easier, so I wasn”t out of position. If I wanted to go in with the puck I was able to.”
But Rogers didn”t let this stumbling block keep him out of the lineup for long. He listened to his coaches and watched tape of himself to analyze where he needed to improve. After evaluating his performance, Rogers knew that he needed to take a more defensive approach to the game, and not worry as much about scoring goals.
“He”s not a kid who makes excuses,” Berenson said. “That”s why he”s back in the lineup. He”s worked hard trying to improve his game. I like what he adds to the team. He makes good plays with the puck and can add to our offensive play by making good passes to the forwards.
“I really like Brandon as a kid, a student and a player. He”s a tough kid.”