Photo Courtesy: JustSports Photography
By: Nicole Del Villano
For a player who is hunting for a permanent position with an American Hockey League team, every moment is an opportunity to make an impression.
For Jack Rodewald, his moment came during the Ottawa Senators Rookie Camp prior to the 2016-17 season.
In his first rookie camp with the Senators organization and third camp in his career, the 6’2, 185lbs, forward knew what would be expected of him and aimed to break into the next level of hockey. After getting injured in his first game, Rodewald lost the opportunity to show any more of his game on the ice, but still managed to leave his impression on the coaching staff.
“He looked like the total package of size, skating and some stick skills that we said ‘wow this kid’s got something here’,” said Assistant Coach Steve Stirling. “Unfortunately he got hurt, but the good news is how he got hurt he showed bravery as well. Not enough guys are willing to block shots because it does take some bravery.”
Following a shortened rookie camp and an appearance at the Binghamton Senators training camp, Rodewald joined Ottawa’s affiliate, the Wichita Thunder, in the ECHL. After a strong rookie campaign the year prior with the Orlando Solar Bears totaling 47 points in 62 games, the forward continued to make his presence known scoring five goals and three assists with the Thunder in six games played.
“I thought it was good to be in Orlando playing some big minutes for my first year professional,” said Rodewald. “I really just was able to develop that pro style game [in the ECHL]. I felt it was hopefully time to move onto the next level.”
Rodewald got his chance at the next level when he was signed to a Professional Try Out with the Binghamton Senators on November 9. As coach Stirling says, the rest was history.
“When we first brought him in, we did not know what to expect,” said Stirling. “He caught on fast and every shift he caught our eye in some way or form. We could see this kid was really working and trying to play on both ends of the ice.”
For Stirling and Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst, being able to stand behind the bench every game and see a consistent young player in Rodewald is important even more so than the points he puts up.
“I want guys that I can count on night in and night out,” said Kleinendorst. “I think [Jack] is one of those guys who consistently when game nights roll around I know what I am getting out of him. I think he’s a 200-foot player.”
Rodewald began his time with the B-Sens on the fourth and third line, but through his hard work found time on the power play and in tougher situations. He quickly earned his spot in the second line and eventually the first using his size, speed and instinct to help give the team a boost. Over 41 games this season, Rodewald is currently tied with Max McCormick for scoring a team-leading 15 goals along with seven assists. Rodewald earned an AHL contract with the Binghamton Senators on December 27.
“[I’m finding success] because I work hard,” said Rodewald. “I’m a fast player, and I enjoy going to the net because that is where I score the majority of the goals. [I] just try to help my line mates out and work hard.”
Being a team player is something fellow B-Sens have also taken notice of both on and off the ice describing Rodewald as a stand up guy who is quiet but has a funny sense of humor and strong one-liners. While the coaches may not hear Rodewald crack any jokes during a game, they do take notice of his quiet, hardworking demeanor.
“There is not a lot you can’t like about [Jack],” said Kleinendorst. “When I stand up in front of a group, it is not lost on me that certain guys have certain focuses. [Jack] has a strong focus. I know he is paying attention and listening.”
From doing work in the weight room to staying out for extra time after practice, Stirling describes Rodewald as a quiet professional who is not looking for any fanfare.
“He just goes about his business and when the game starts, he does the same thing so something must be working,” said Stirling. “He is a good kid. He is a sponge for knowledge and is only going to get better.”