HOCKEY. Third year is the charm for Roebothan

Darcy MacRae
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St. Johns native leads NCAA hockey team in scoring with 13 points in 15 games

St. Johns native Mark Roebothan is enjoying his third season with the UMass Lowell River Hawks. After 15 regular season games, Roebothan leads the team in points with 13 (eight goals, five assists). Submitted photo

After paying his dues for a couple of seasons, Mark Roebothan was given a chance to be a go-to player with the UMass-Lowell River Hawks this year.
Judging by his play so far, it's fair to say Roebothan has made the most of the opportunity.
"It's a combination of a few things," Roebothan said of his quick start this season. "Every year you come back, you're a little more confident and comfortable. My linemate (Michael Potacco) and I have played together for most of the past three years, so we have a pretty good chemistry together."
After 15 games, the St. John's hockey player leads his team with 13 points and eight goals. His point total puts him in the top 20 scorers in Hockey East and is just two shy of the 15 he registered all last season. Twice this year already Roebothan has been named to the Hockey East Honour Roll.
In addition to being more comfortable playing at the NCAA Div. 1 level, Roebothan admits much of his success is due to the fact he is getting more ice time as a junior than he ever did as a freshman or sophomore. Walking into the River Hawks' locker room as a rookie three years ago, he was competing for playing time with players who already had three and four years experience in the team's systems, a factor that limited Roebothan's chances of securing a major role.
"It's tough. My first year I was a fairly young freshman and we had an older team, 12 or 13 seniors. It was incredibly tough to get in the lineup," said Roebothan, 21. "I was scratched the first four games I was here, and even though I played every game after that, I still had guys ahead of me because they were 25 and had been here for four years.
"The thing is, there's a little adjustment period there and sometimes it's hard to relate to a guy who's five or six years older than you."
Roebothan can't say for certain if his play this season has caught the attention of pro scouts, but he certainly hopes it has. After watching fellow St. John's native and friend Teddy Purcell sign a contract with the Los Angeles Kings after one year at the University of Maine last year, Roebothan can't help but wonder if such an offer could come his way after he graduates from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in the spring of 2009.
"I definitely want to keep that option open for sure," said Roebothan. "That's a goal for all of us (playing NCAA hockey), we want to play pro when we leave college."
In addition to Purcell, who currently leads the AHL in scoring, a number of other undrafted NCAA players have gone on to sign with NHL teams in recent seasons. Roebothan says players who suited up in the Hockey East conference as recently as last season have seen time in the NHL this year, inspiring others in the league to step up their game in case scouts are on the prowl for more undrafted prospects.
"It's pretty cool ... guys are jumping right from college to the NHL," said Roebothan. "I'm not saying it happens to everyone, but it boosts your confidence to compete against these guys and then see them in the NHL."
Roebothan completed his winter exams late last week and is in St. John's for Christmas break.
He leaves the night of Dec. 26 for Lowell where his team will practice for a couple of days before heading to Florida for an exhibition tournament.
UMass-Lowell resumes its Hockey East schedule Jan. 11 when it visits Providence.
One game Roebothan has marked on his calendar in the new year is a Feb. 1 home date against Maine. Bonavista native Andrew Sweetland is a freshman forward with the Black Bears (two goals, three assists in 11 games) and Roebothan hopes the two have a chance to talk during Maine's visit to Lowell.
"Me and Teddy Purcell always got together. We'd get in a couple of words during the warmup," said Roebothan.
"We haven't played Maine yet this year, so I haven't seen Sweetland.
"But we might get a chance to talk when we play."
Roebothan and Sweetland aren't the only Newfoundlanders playing NCAA Division I hockey.
Colin Greening of St. John's leads the Cornell Big Red with three goals and six assists through nine games.
Greening was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round in the 2005 NHL Draft.
Matthew Thomey of Harbour Grace is a member of the Yale Bulldogs. So far in the 2007-08 season, Thomey has two assists in 10 games.

dmacrae@thetelegram.com

Organizations: NCAA, NHL, Los Angeles Kings University of Maine University of Massachusetts-Lowell Ottawa Senators Yale Bulldogs

Geographic location: St. John's, Hockey East, Lowell Maine Florida Providence Bonavista

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