While the 798-mile trek to New Hampshire may seem like a long
way to go for, at most, two hockey games, there is at least one
player on the Michigan hockey team who won’t mind the voyage
at all.

Ice Hockey
Michigan defenseman Brandon Rogers is a native of Rochester, N.H. (FILE PHOTO)

Junior defenseman and alternate captain Brandon Rogers is a
native of Rochester, N.H. — a small town about 45 minutes
north of Manchester, where the Wolverines will play their first
game in the NCAA Tournament. The game will provide a rare
opportunity for his family members, most of whom live in New
Hampshire or Vermont, to see him play in person.

“It’s going to be an event — that’s for
sure,” Rogers said. “I’ve already talked with my
family about how many people are going to be going to the game.
It’s a big deal for them and a lot of my friends.”

Seeing familiar faces in the stands is not the only thing that
will bring back memories for Rogers when he takes the ice Saturday
afternoon. The Wolverines’ opponent is New Hampshire, a team
that Rogers followed in his childhood days.

“That was the team that was right down the road, that I
could go to with my family,” Rogers said. “So I kept
tabs on them,”

Rogers was quick to point out that, while he may have been a
Wildcats fan growing up, he always knew that he wanted to suit up
for Michigan. He had seen the Wolverines play several games on
television and was also aware of the storied success that the
program was having under coach Red Berenson.

“With those two combined things, and knowing that I could
get a great education, (coming to Michigan) was a
no-brainer,” Rogers said.

Rogers is similar in several ways to his Michigan teammates.
Like nearly one-third of the team, Rogers has had at least one
relative who has participated in athletics at the collegiate level
or higher — in his case, his sister Molly, who played
lacrosse at Merrimack. Nearly all the Wolverines have also been
exposed to hockey for most of their lives, and Rogers is no
exception.

“When I was a small kid, my dad started making a rink out
in our backyard, and I spent all day out there,” Rogers said.
“My parents would make me come inside (at the end of the
day).”

But one thing that separates Rogers from most of the team is his
playing experience prior to coming to Michigan. Rogers is one of
just three players on the team to come to Ann Arbor directly from a
preparatory school.

For Rogers, the institution was The Hotchkiss School — a
boarding school of about 550 students in northwest Connecticut. The
school, which is known for its academic excellence, is not an
athletic powerhouse. Rogers noted that when he graduated, he was
the only player on his team to go to a Division I hockey program,
and he estimates that only a few players each year he was there had
a shot at making it on a collegiate roster. Rogers also said that,
because of this, his adjustment when he got to Michigan was
somewhat more difficult than that of the normal college hockey
newcomer.

“When you’re playing in the USHL (United States
Hockey League), or some of the junior leagues, the talent is
better,” Rogers said. “There’s more depth in the
teams and there’s more good players. Sometimes the players
are older and more experienced.”

Despite his disadvantage coming in, Rogers has made the most of
his time in Ann Arbor. He’s been a mainstay on
Michigan’s first powerplay unit and has played well enough
this season to earn second-team All-CCHA honors from the media. He
is tied for first in points among Michigan defenders, with 23.

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