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MEN’S HOCKEY: Lleyton Roed, young Beavers’ ‘bright eyes’ powering early success

Tom Serratore has enjoyed coaching his less-experienced Beavers group so far this season. What could have been a mistake-prone team has so far coalesced into a hungry group willing and unafraid to follow the process that leads to greatness.

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Bemidji State freshman Lleyton Roed (29) battles for the puck during the second period against Arizona State on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – You’ll have to forgive Tom Serratore if he sounds like a certain fictional football coach.

“Young guys have bright eyes,” said the Bemidji State men’s hockey team’s head coach of his bunch. “This team so far, hats off to them. I've been proud of them. We've enjoyed ourselves as coaches. It's been a joy. These guys have bright eyes, they come to work, they've responded well. And a lot of that, hats off to the leadership group as well. I mean, they’ve got a big part in this.”

Much like coach Eric Taylor in the television series “Friday Night Lights,” famous for his “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” mantra, Serratore has enjoyed coaching his younger, less-experienced Beavers group so far this season. What could have been a mistake-prone team weaving its way through the pitfalls of college hockey has so far coalesced into a hungry group willing and unafraid to follow the process that leads to greatness.

One of the most sterling examples of BSU (2-1-1, 1-0-1 CCHA) finding early success with inexperienced players is freshman Lleyton Roed. The forward from White Bear Lake scored three goals in last weekend’s series against Michigan Tech and earned CCHA Rookie of the Week honors. Roed’s performance was a key component of Bemidji State taking five out of six points from the Huskies on the road in Houghton, Mich.

“Lleyton’s a good player,” Serratore said. “Lleyton’s got one thing that everybody needs – he works. He's got an unbelievable work ethic. He can skate. He's tenacious. His goals were effort-based goals. He doesn't look for easy offense, and you can't look for easy offense. I tell our guys all the time – you can't look for easy offense. Because there's just not easy offense at our level.

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“You’ve got to work for offense, you’ve got to manufacture offense, and Lleyton did with his legs. He did it with his legs and his stick, and that's how you do it. Applying good pressure, whacking a puck, knocking a puck out of the air … and he's got a good touch.”

While Roed has graded out well in the first four games of his Beavers career, the first-year shuns any notion that his production can be attributed to some sort of radical change. Instead, he’s focused on maintaining the habits that powered him to a 41-point season with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL in 2021-22.

“The biggest thing is keeping it simple,” Roed said. “Using my intangibles like my speed and my legs allows me to create stuff for myself, and just using my energy. And then I’ve got great linemates that help me do that every night.”

Having a defined opportunity to contribute has also helped Roed settle into his new squad quickly and even surpass his early expectations.

“I'd say so,” Roed said of exceeding his initial goals. “I felt comfortable coming in. That's a big reason I came here. I thought I had a good role, and the coaches put me in that role and gave me a lot of confidence. Last weekend was a little bit of a surprise, but obviously a good feeling.”

Roed and BSU will now take on No. 2 St. Cloud State in a home-and-home series commencing at 7:07 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, at the Sanford Center, and concluding at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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