Josiah Roen is making a name for himself this season while helping Bethel do the same as a program.
Only a sophomore, Roen is tied for second in the MIAC in goals (nine) and has tallied three assists as well.
That success has helped the Royals put together their best season in nearly a decade. They have five wins, which doesn’t seem like a lot on the surface, but it’s an important number when one considers they haven’t won that many games since the 2012-13 season.
More importantly, Bethel is 4-3-3 in conference play and has 16 points, putting them in a three-way tie for second place in one of the most tightly contested conferences year in and year out.
The Royals recorded their first series sweep since 2012-13 last week, taking out Saint Mary’s, and are unbeaten in their last three games.
“It’s huge,” Roen said. “That (sweep) came at an important time of the season for us. We’re in a good position. Now we just have to finish strong.”
Roen is happy with what he’s accomplished on a personal level up to this point, but he isn’t quick to take all of the credit.
“I have to give credit to the guys around me,” Roen said. “They and the coaches put me in a position to have success. All I have to do is shoot the puck and it’s been going in.”
Roen is tied for the team-lead in points along with Jarrett Cammarata, who has come through with five goals and seven assists. Dylan Giorgio and Curtis Hansen have 10 points apiece, both scoring a goal and dishing out nine assists.
Roen tallied six goals and six assists a season ago and said he put a lot of time in during the offseason to become an even better player this year, whether that meant on-ice workouts our hitting the weight room hard.
He takes pride in knowing hard work has paid off.
“It’s a good feeling,” Roen said. “But I look at it as I still have work to do and more success to achieve. I can always be better.”
Roen said his ability to simplify the game has played a part in his success as well.
“I have simplified the game and I’m shooting the puck a lot more,” Roen said. “Defenses are so good and goalies are good, so you have to be deceptive with your shot. I’ve found ways to do that.”
Roen grew up playing the game in Minnesota. Hockey has always been his favorite sport.
“I remember skating when I was like 3 years old,” Roen said. “Growing up in Minnesota, you play hockey. I started playing it and never looked back.”
He’s had no reason to, especially considering what he’s done at the collegiate level in his first two seasons.
And now he’s played a part in helping the Royals position themselves for a spot in the MIAC tournament.
Of course, there is no time for complacency in a league where anyone can be beaten on any given weekend.
“It’s enjoyable and stressful playing in this conference,” Roen said. “One weekend can completely change your spot in the standings. You have to be ready to bear down and be prepared for everything that comes your way. You can’t take a weekend off.”
Partly what has allowed the Royals to thrive is the versatility of the lineup.
“We have guys that can play anywhere,” Roen said. “Our practices are intense and are games are intense. Everyone is working hard to get a spot in the lineup.”
The Royals have three weekends remaining in the regular season, including a series against Gustavus, which is also in a tie for second. That series will be played the final weekend of the regular season.
“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and outwork the other teams,” Roen said. “We know we have to give full effort, play smart and play disciplined. If we do that, good things will happen.”
Roen intends to do his part to help the team do just that while also building off what he’s already done on a personal level.
“I want to keep building off it and get even better. I am motivated to improve and become an even better hockey player the rest of this season and even into the next one,” Roen said.
Around the West Region
The MIAC standings are interesting to say the least.
Augsburg remains the top team with 23 points and controls its own destiny at this point. The Auggies are 12-5-1 overall and 7-2-1 in league play. But three teams are tied for second with 16 points apiece while Concordia (14), Saint John’s (12) and Saint Mary’s (12) aren’t too far behind in terms of points.
Caleb Anderson ranks second in the MIAC in points (20) and nearly has 10 goals and 10 assists He currently has nine goals on the year while tallying 11 assists.
The WIAC is far from decided at this point in the season. Wisconsin-Eau Claire leads the way at 6-2-1 but Wisconsin-Stevens Point is right behind the Blugolds at 4-2-3.
The Pointers are two points behind UW-Eau Claire, which has 13 points. Wisconsin-Superior, Wisconsin-Stout and Wisconsin-River Falls all have 10 points apiece.
Ryan Cusin and Christian Hausinger are tied for the conference lead in points. The UW-River Falls standouts both have 26 points. Cusin has tallied 10 goals and 16 assists while Hausinger has come through with nine goals and 17 assists.
The hottest team in the NCHA is Lake Forest, which has rattled off 11 consecutive wins and is on its way to winning the North Division. The Foresters have scored 81 goals while giving up 42. They are 16-2-1 overall and 13-1-0 in the conference.
In the South Division, Marian and St. Norbert are tied for first with 18 points apiece.
Peter Bates of St. Norbert leads the NCHA in points with 31. He has scored 12 goals this season and has come through with 19 assists.
In the Poll: Only one team in the region is ranked in the top five and that’s UW-Eau Claire, which sits in the No. 2 spot. The Blugolds received two first-place votes. Lake Forest is just on the outside of the top five, sitting in sixth. It has one first-place vote. Augsburg (10th), UW-Superior (12th) and Adrian (13th) are also nationally ranked this week.