Minnesota Hockey Journal

March 2023

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school's all-time points record (125) until this year's co-captain Sam Ranallo surpassed him on Nov. 29. A nd there's Matt Hellickson, a four-year starter at Notre Dame who is currently playing in the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies, affiliate to the Maple Leafs. "I knew of Nick Jensen a little bit, but he's older than me," Ranallo said. "For me, Matt Hellickson was the one guy I really looked up to. He was able to go and play at Notre Dame and I just always thought that was pretty cool." Cheslock, co-captain alongside Ranallo, said Hellickson was his go-to Rogers role model, too. "Matt Hellickson was definitely the guy I looked up to the most," added Cheslock, who is committed to the University of St. Thomas. "I wanted to be just like No. 12." W hether it was Jensen in the early 2000s, or Hellickson in the mid-2000s, it's standouts like them who helped contribute to the growth of Rogers hockey from the ground up. BUILDING THE BASE Last season there were 191 boys and girls registered in Rogers at 8U compared to 137 in 2012-13. One big benchmark for the association was a first-time appearance for the Bantam A A squad at the 2019-20 Minnesota Hockey State Tournament. "That Bantam State Tournament was probably some of the most fun I've had playing hockey," recalled Ranallo. "One of the most electric atmospheres. Now we're really trying to get there to the big State. We're going to do whatever it takes." Brown says that Bantam A A team is a big reason Rogers has been surging the past few years. Many of the players from that 2019-20 State Tournament team are now seniors on this year's varsity squad, including Ranallo and Cheslock. "My first year, there was a handful of players on the Bantam A A team that could have made the var- sity team as freshmen," Brown said. "A nd we decided to keep that group together to learn how to win together. To grow together. To play roles together. I think that's completely propelled this program into being a premier powerhouse." Cheslock says it ser ves as a good reminder how important success at every level can be for a program. "You see it growing up, all the kids that are playing in their own Bantam A A State Tournament, and the chances are that they're going to bring their high school team to the State Tournament," said Cheslock. THE NEXT GENERATION Like Jensen and Hellickson before them, Ranallo and Cheslock recognize that their success not only ref lects upon them, but the future of hockey in their small town. The wins, the losses, the excitement—it's for the community of Rogers as a whole. "Our community banks on us. I represent a small town with a small-town feel," explained Cheslock. "You know everyone that goes to the rink, and they're always cheering me on, and they're always at the games. So to make an impact and get to State for them, it'd be a reward for all the hard work they put into bringing their kids to games and cheering us on. I think it'd be something extraordinary." Jessi Pierce is a freelance writer in St. Paul, covering the Minnesota Wild for NHL.com and host of Bardown Beauties Podcast. Follow her on Twitter @jessi_pierce. ROGERS ROYALTY M H J ON L I N E . C O M | M A R C H 2 0 2 3 28 The Royals' core group of seniors made it to the Bantam AA State Tournament together in 2019-20. MATT HELLICKSON: Rogers High School (2012-2014) U.S. NTDP (2014-2016) Notre Dame (2017-2021) Toronto Marlies (2021-present) NICK JENSEN: Rogers High School (2006-2008) St. Cloud State (2010-2013) Detroit Red Wings (2016-2019) Washington Capitals (2019-present) Photos / Loren Nelson/LegacyHockeyPhotography.com, 734_visuals, Getty Images Our community banks on us. I represent a small town with a small-town feel. You know everyone that goes to the rink, and they're always cheering me on, and they're always at the games." —CHASE CHESLOCK

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