By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
Wilkes University is getting a great one, as the Florida Eels’ two-year goaltender Duncan Rolleman is headed to the Pennsylvania NCAA Division III institution after a two-year career that included an All-Star nod this past 2022-23 season.
Rolleman leaves with the Eels’ all-time best career save percentage for a goaltender with more than one season of service, putting up a career .919 mark. He also helped the Eels reach at least the National semifinals for the third straight year.
Rolleman, an ‘02 from New Hamburg, Ont., shared some of his thoughts on committing to Wilkes University earlier this month and about his two years with the Eels.
“I reached out to Wilkes early in the season but I didn’t start talking with them seriously until about two weeks before my commitment. In the first serious conversation I had with Coach [Tyler] Hynes, he mentioned the possibility of a commitment and the interest grew from both sides from that day. One thing that stood out to me that Coach Hynes told me was that ‘there are other goalies who have your size [6-6, 225] in the USPHL, but not many have their skating as polished,’” said Rolleman. “I recommend for any goalie that is bigger continually work on their skating throughout the entirety of their career.”
Wilkes University’s program was founded in 2018-19 and its first coach was Brett Riley, who then went and established the NCAA Division I program at Long Island University. The program has a winning percentage over four years of .667, and its two most successful seasons of 19 and 20 wins, respectively, are under Coach Hynes, who took over in 2019.
“I was enticed to attend Wilkes because they are a newer program that has had early success but they still have lots of room to grow and achieve the goals that were outlined to me during my visit,” said Rolleman. “They have a young head coach who understands the game and understands how to manage the different personalities that come with a hockey team. On the academic side, I was thrilled when I learned about all the support that will be provided to me as a student, giving me the best opportunity to learn and grow as a student.”
Rolleman got a chance this spring to visit the campus of Wilkes, located just off the heart of downtown Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
“Right away, I was greeted by my head coach. He took my mom and I on a tour and, early on, I could tell that this was the school for me. It was a vibrant environment with beautiful old buildings that have been well-maintained,” said Rolleman.”I could also tell that this was a school that loves its athletics, as we bumped into the school’s president and he quickly introduced himself and presented an excitement about the hockey program, and how he expects the program to only grow and be more successful.”
Wilkes and their fans have reason to be optimistic, as they’re getting one of the best Premier goaltenders of the last two seasons.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing for the Eels organization, they did a great job in recruitment and player development. Head coach Frankie Scarpaci is a master when it comes to getting his players to play for each other and for his system,” added Rolleman. “This is a testament to why they have continued success year after year. I was simply a part of a proven system of success on the ice, but off the ice, I was a part of their family.”
He also feels he got better and better each time out with the Eels, with whom he posted 15 wins in each season.
“I think that the Eels do a great job in player development, providing an opportunity on and off the ice to get better and stronger every day,” said Rolleman. “The consistency of the schedule and the limits that were pushed for me drastically helped me improve my game.”
“Wilkes University is getting a talented and dedicated athlete in Rolleman, who has shown a remarkable ability to make game-changing saves and keep his team in the game. We wish Duncan all the best as he takes the next step in his hockey journey and look forward to following his success at Wilkes,” wrote the Eels in an online article about his commitment.
He is certainly indebted to the Eels and was also complimentary of their league, the USPHL Premier, for providing the framework for success by offering the Eels so many different teams to face through showcases and at Nationals.
“The USPHL does a fantastic job in attracting college attention and preparing their players for NCAA hockey. My GM Frank Scarpaci was constantly on the phone with college coaches promoting his players. His list of contacts in the NCAA and ACHA was something that I had never seen before,” said Rolleman. “The league provides a tough, high level of hockey where any team can beat any team on a nightly basis. If you don’t show up to play, chances are you won’t win.”
The key to being a good college hockey player, however, is the preparation. Yes, two years of success in the Premier goes a long way, but a lot of what will determine Rolleman’s first year in NCAA hockey has to do with what he does this spring and summer.
“I believe that the most important part of my game that I will work on improving this off-season is being able to play at a higher pace. This includes becoming a faster, smoother skater, and having the ability to read players quicker and more efficiently. I will also continue to work on becoming stronger, as I will be entering a league of men that are older than me,” he said.
“I believe that anytime you make a jump in levels you need to expect an adjustment period, but this period can be limited by the amount of work that you put in before the season starts,” Rolleman added. “An important aspect that I am going to carry into my college career is continuing to be a student of the game. You can never learn everything that there is to hockey, and more importantly for me, the goalie position.”
The USPHL congratulates Duncan Rolleman, his family, the Florida Eels and Wilkes University for his commitment.