Roed quits U with academic problems

by Josh Linehan

As finals week approaches, a parade of Gophers athletes are handing in their jerseys and heading home.
Joining men’s basketball player Kevin Nathaniel and women’s basketball player Natea Motley, Gophers hockey forward Shawn Roed left school Wednesday.
Roed, a freshman from White Bear Lake, sat out the last four games in an attempt to catch up on schoolwork. Wednesday, he told coach Don Lucia he planned on playing hockey in a major junior league.
Roed played for the Twin City Vulcans of the United States Hockey League last season, a minor junior team.
Roed’s absence will hurt the Gophers up front. When he was suspended on Nov. 24, Roed was playing left wing on the Gophers’ first line — along with Nate Miller and John Pohl — and was fourth on the team in scoring with three goals and six assists.
Two days before his suspension, Roed was named WCHA rookie of the week for his performance against Minnesota-Duluth. He had a goal and three assists to help the Gophers sweep the Bulldogs.
Lucia said Roed had simply fallen too far behind in his classes to continue playing for the Gophers.
“I think he felt the hole was just too big for him to climb out of. It’s disappointing. I wish him well. He’s a very good player,” Lucia said.
Balancing practice and games is hard for all student-athletes, but Lucia said Roed’s problems began because of a lack of effort towards academics.
“You have to want to go to school. College isn’t necessarily for everyone. Some kids are more ready at 20 than they are at 18,” Lucia said. “He had a lot of guidance; certainly the tutors.
“I think probably the one thing that got him was class attendance. I’ve always had a saying: never miss, never fail. If you go to class you’ll do well.”
Team captain Nate Miller said the team lost a valuable player on the ice, but Roed wasn’t focused on his studies enough to play college hockey.
“It’s an unfortunate situation. He’s obviously a very talented player, but school just didn’t fit into his priorities,” Miller said.
Lucia maintains a strict policy on his players’ academic standing, Miller said, as evidenced by Roed’s earlier suspension.
“It’s too bad, but coach Lucia made very clear at the beginning of the year what his expectations were, and Shawn couldn’t meet them,” Miller said.
Lucia agreed, saying the team would miss Roed’s on-ice presence, but was moving forward.
“They’re probably all disappointed, too, but everyone’s got to make their own decisions,” Lucia said. “He knows how I feel about the academics, and we’re certainly not going to compromise our standards. (The team’s) disappointed, but they understand.”
The loss of Roed might or might not be a factor heading into this weekend’s key series against St. Cloud. The Gophers are 2-2 since initially losing Roed to suspension.
Though it is still unclear who will permanently replace Roed in the Minnesota offense, his departure will open up ice time for a number of players.
“We’ve played the last couple weekends without him, and we’ve done okay. I think guys kind of saw the writing on the wall,” Miller said. “You look at some guys like Pat O’Leary, even though he’s hurt now, Matt Leimbek and Doug Meyer who are certainly going to get some more ice time. It’s their turn to step up now, and we need them.”
Roed’s departure also leaves the Gophers with an extra scholarship for the second semester, which Lucia said would be divided up among deserving players not on full scholarships.
“We’ll probably use it on returning kids right now and update some guys for second semester. A few guys will get a Christmas present,” he said.

ùGophers sophomore defenseman Jordan Leopold and freshman forward Jeff Taffe were named to the U.S. National Team for the upcoming 2000 IIHF World Junior Championships, Dec. 25 to Jan. 4 in Sweden.

Josh Linehan covers hockey and welcomes comments to [email protected].