Motor City Rockers ‘sticking together’ during winning season

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Metro | Published December 7, 2022


METRO DETROIT — The NHL had the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken. Now, the Motor City Rockers (9-3) have established themselves as a successful expansion team in the Federal Prospects Hockey League.

There were some growing pains early on with two straight losses to the Port Huron Prowlers to open the season, including a 7-3 loss in the second game. But now, the mixed-bag band of players has turned into a band of brothers during their three-game win streak.

“I think we started off with a lot of camaraderie, and I think we have good chemistry,” Rockers defenseman Dante Suffredini said. “I think we’ve just been riding on that and kind of sticking together, working hard and believing in ourselves.”

As of Nov. 30, the Shelby Township native was sixth in points with 11 (2 goals, 9 assists) and second in plus-minus with a plus-8, and he has been a focal point of the team-oriented offense.

While late-season acquisition Declan Conway, who was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Thunderbirds on Oct. 26., led the team with 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) in only 10 games, the Rockers’ offense has seen contributions from all over the roster.

Heading into December, the Rockers featured eight players with 10 or more points in the squad’s first 15 games.

“I think it’s great because we can play all of our lines every night and everyone can chip in,” Suffredini said. “I think that will take us pretty far in this league with everyone pitching in and helping out on the offensive side.”

Goaltending has also been a strong suit for the Rockers this year, with Blake Scott and Trevor Babin both providing consistent production in net. Babin is currently loaned to the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Knoxville Ice Bears.

The Rockers’ mix of speed and physicality has been a primary factor in the team’s four goals per game, including five or more goals in four of their last six games.

“I feel like our work ethic helps our offense, and we also have a lot of fast players as well,” Rockers forward Brad Reitter said. “Our forecheck causes a lot of turnovers, and we’ve been able to execute on that.”

Reitter is currently second in points on the team with 13 (3 goals, 10 assists).

As the Rockers sit in second place in the FPHL’s Continental Conference with a 9-3 record and 28 points, they’ll have a tough matchup against first-place Danbury Hat Tricks on Dec. 9. and Dec. 10.

Danbury (12-0) is currently 2-0 against the Rockers on the year, but Reitter said their first matchup was a key learning experience for the Rockers.

“They were very structured as a team, and basically, they had a really good forecheck; they were a little more passive, and they would let you come to them,” Reitter said. “Most of their players were falling to the same principles their team had set in place, so I think we could learn from that.”

As the chemistry continues to stabilize and players return from injury, the Rockers have a strong shot to make some noise this season.

“I know we got some injuries right now. We did pick up Danny Vanderwiel, and I think he was a good pickup for us,” Suffredini said. “I do think we have a pretty solid D-core right now, and hopefully we can get some of those guys healthy to come back and help us out.”

The Rockers were scheduled to start a two-game set against the last-place Delaware Thunder (1-11) on Dec. 2.

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