By Kayvon Pourmand
Jul 27 2007 5:09 PM
Entering high school, Doug Rogers set several goals for his hockey career: get drafted into the NHL, play college hockey and eventually, play in the NHL.
Halfway through high school, Rogers added another goal to that list: play for the U.S. national team.
Now, after an impressive freshman season at Harvard, where Rogers finished second on the team in points (24) and assists (17), the Crimson center has the opportunity to reach that goal, as he has been invited to try out for the U.S. National Under-20 team Aug. 3-11.
"It's obviously a great honor to be asked to try out to represent your country," said Rogers, a Watertown, Mass. native. "Just getting asked to try out alone is a huge accomplishment."
To qualify for this year's national team, Rogers must try out at a camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. Forty-five players have been invited to the tryout, which will see the invitees scrimmage against players from Finland and Sweden. While Rogers is merely happy with being asked to try out, Fraser thinks the young center has a good shot of making the team. However, he cautions that it isn't always the best individual players that get selected.
"He is definitely one of the best players in his age group," said Fraser, who also tried out for the team in 2005. "Doug is the type of player that can do everything well and can play in any type of situation ... that's important because they don't necessarily take the best goal scorers, they take the best team. When you're looking at guys for the best combination, I think Doug fits in there well."
One concern for Rogers heading into the camp will be his physical readiness. Harvard hasn't played a game since March and Rogers has spent part of his summer working to get his body in shape for the team tryout. Of course, he sought advice from Fraser on what he needs to do to be ready.
"He told me to do the things I'm good at, don't deviate from the way I play," said the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Rogers. "(He said) to stay in shape, or get in shape, and to keep playing how I play."
Fraser said the best piece of advice he could offer to any player trying out for the team: play with confidence.
"You're going in and you're going to be skating with some of the best players in the country," said Fraser. "That can get intimidating ... as long as you stay positive the whole time you're there, you're going to do great. You are there for a reason. They know you're a good player."
If Rogers makes the team, he will represent the U.S. at the World Junior Championships in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, meaning he will miss four Harvard games, including matches against conference foes Quinnipiac and Princeton. However, neither of the young Crimson stars expects the missed time to be a problem.
"I'm sure when the situation arises, we have a great group of players back at school and great coaches," said Rogers. "I'm not the least bit worried about making any adjustments."
Rogers said he expects his experience with the national team, whether it ends in Lake Placid or the Czech Republic, will be of the learning variety. The 2006 fourth-round draft pick of the New York Islanders expects that the potential missed time at Harvard will be worth it in the long run for both him and his team.
"If I can make that team, it’d be great to just compete against these kinds of players and learn something in the process," said Rogers. "These are the guys you're competing with to play in the NHL. Just the knowledge I'd gain from seeing these guys play and seeing what I'm up against, I think would be very valuable."