Photo by Rena Laverty
For USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program goaltender Cameron Rowe (Wilmette, Ill.), his mask is an important link to himself and a nod to his hometown and family.
On the front, there’s an ode to his hometown of Chicago with the city’s skyline across the front. On the back, the No. 16 represents his grandfather, who played hockey his whole life with the same number on his back. The “S” represents his other late grandfather, who was an ardent Michigan State fan.
On Dec. 29, Rowe will get a chance to showcase his mask against his future team when the U18s head to Grand Forks to face the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
“It’s awesome to get the chance to play there and I think it will be a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s going to be special to play against my future college. I can’t believe that I still have this opportunity to do so. There is just no way to explain how excited I am.”
So far, the U18s have had mixed results against NCAA opponents. Through its first 10 chances, Team USA is 5-5, which included wins over Notre Dame, Michigan and Harvard.
Going up against North Dakota will be another valuable experience for Rowe and his teammates. Through 15 starts, Rowe had amassed an .873 save percentage while posting a 3.67 goals-against average.
“Playing against the college teams is huge for us,” Rowe said. “You have to be mentally ready for the experience, but it also shows that we can play with them.”
For Rowe, 17, the game against North Dakota will be another chance for him to see his future program and what makes it the right place for him.
“I really liked the coaches and staff,” Rowe, a Wilmette, Illinois, native, said. “They really prepare you for the pro lifestyle. I jumped at the opportunity to go there. I know that they can make a difference in my game, both on and off the ice. You learn how to take care of yourself.”
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Aside from preparing for his upcoming step to the college ranks, Rowe has worked to increase his visibility with professional scouts this season. He was a part of this year’s USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he stopped 17 of 19 shots in 30 minutes of action.
“It was such a cool experience,” Rowe said. “You are playing in a NHL barn and the Minnesota Wild did a great job. It really was a showcase game.”
The .894 save percentage is impressive considering the amount of talent in the game.
“You had to focus on what had to be done and put your trust in the players,” Rowe said. “You really wanted to go out and perform your best. For us, the rosters were all mixed up so it was fun to play against some of my current teammates.”
It’s going to be special to play against my future college," Rowe said. "I can’t believe I still have this opportunity to do so.
Right now, Rowe is focused on his final season with the NTDP. He has already noticed a huge difference between his first and second year between the pipes. But while he has improved in net, so have the players around him.
“For me, now people have greater expectations of you and our team,” Rowe who held an .882 save percentage with the U17s last season in 38 games, said. “Last year, I was called upon to keep up us in games and win. This year, I’m called upon less in those situations, but the moments are bigger when I need to make saves.
For Rowe, his summer was all about improvement. He was working out three or four times per week and working on vision training. This all came while working with a goaltending coach back in Illinois.
“It wasn’t until I came back from summer that I really realized how much the training helps,” Rowe said. “The strength I gained in the offseason and the training from last spring has really transitioned on the ice. As I got some games under my belt, I was really happy with the work I had put in.”
Photo by Rena Laverty
As a member of Team USA, Rowe is living out his childhood dream. And while doing that he makes sure his family — and country — are along for the ride.
“It was a dream come true to make this team,” Rowe said. “It was something I had dreamed about when I was a little kid. Every day that I get to put the jersey on, it is an honor.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.