Motor City Rockers defenseman Josh Colten looks for the open man against the Binghamton Black Bears on March 25 at Big Boy Ice Arena.

Motor City Rockers defenseman Josh Colten looks for the open man against the Binghamton Black Bears on March 25 at Big Boy Ice Arena.

Photo provided by Derek Polena-Katsaros

Rockers clinch playoff spot in thrilling inaugural season

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Metro | Published March 30, 2023

 Rockers celebrate a goal during their win over the Binghamton Black Bears on March 25.

Rockers celebrate a goal during their win over the Binghamton Black Bears on March 25.

Photo provided by Derek Polena-Katsaros


MOUNT CLEMENS — Everybody loves an underdog story, except maybe the teams that become a victim of circumstance in the league.

The Motor City Rockers (28-16-6) have clinched a playoff spot in their inaugural season in the Federal Prospects Hockey League.

While the Rockers aren’t surprised in the slightest to be earning the success they have this season, the rest of the league — including their interstate-94 rivals, the Port Huron Prowlers — have taken notice of the breakout team in the FPHL.

It comes with the territory of being the new guys in town and already establishing a successful foundation, and the forward Scott Coash said the team embraces that mentality.

“Everybody hates us,” Coash said. “Knowing we’re a brand new team, we’re doing so well, and we’re successful with what we have, they hate us. We’re definitely on everybody’s radar, that’s for sure.”

Through all the obstacles of constant moving pieces with trades and call-ups, injuries and even a 3-9 stretch midway through the season, the Rockers are right where they always thought they could be.

“It’s a spot I thought we could be in from the beginning of the season,” Rockers goaltender Trevor Babin said. “We had a little rough patch about halfway through with guys getting called up, injuries and guys moving in and out of the lineup, but I think at this point, we kind of expected it, and we’re holding ourselves to a standard that I think we can definitely hold ourselves accountable for.”

Currently 7-3 in their last 10 games, the Rockers took their last three series against the top two teams in their division — the Carolina Thunderbirds and Columbus Sea Dragons — and the Binghamton Black Bears, who are in second place in their respective division. The Rockers have outscored opponents 41-29 during their 10-game stretch.

Courtesy of Coash’s team-high 34 goals, the Rockers offense has been a force to be reckoned with this season.

Supporting Coash’s offensive output are forward Declan Conway with 21 goals, Derek Makimaa with 20, and Tommy Cardinal with 19 on the year.

More impressively, the Rockers’ unselfish distribution of the puck has been a key factor to its offensive attack, featuring five players with 20 or more assists in Coash (28), Conway (22), forward Brad Reitter (31), defenseman Josh Colten (31) and defenseman Dante Suffredini (29).

Coash said the team’s offensive contribution has been courtesy of the team’s depth at each line.

“That’s the beauty of it when all three lines click, and it’s not just one line contributing but all three lines contributing on the score sheet,” Coash said.

Babin has been a staple in net for the Rockers, earning a .915 save percentage and a 17-12 record on the year. Blake Scott has also been reliable between the pipes, holding an 8-4 record on the season for the Rockers.

While Coash had high praise for the goaltending duo, saying the team strength has been the “goaltending for sure,” Babin said the team’s mindset and expectations have altered due to the talent at the forward position.

“When we brought in Scott (Coash), Declan Conway and a couple other key pieces and things like that, the team definitely turned around and held ourselves to a certain standard that we’re at now in the season,” Babin said.

The expectations also rise as the team chemistry is at an all-time high. Success brings people together, but it’s a brotherhood in the locker room regardless.

A team once thrown together at the beginning of the season via the draft, trades and tryouts, the Rockers have finally cemented a team mentality built around the camaraderie of each player night in and night out.

Coash said this is the strongest bond he’s had with a team during his two seasons in the Southern Professional Hockey League and the FPHL.

“When you’re in that locker room, it’s family,” Coash said. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on outside the rink because inside the rink is all family. When we put on that jersey, we’re brothers. In and outside the rink, we’re brothers; that’s the whole excitement about team sports is that you got the bond with guys you’ve never met before, but now you feel like you’ve known them for years.”

Holding only six games left on the year and currently in third place in their division, only seven points ahead of the fourth-place Prowlers, the Rockers two-game set March 31-April 1 will be one to look out for as the race towards the playoff approaches.

With how the Rockers have been playing, they’re ready to carry their confidence and momentum into the playoffs.

“The way we’ve been playing recently, we’re not worried about anybody,” Coash said. “As long as we come in night in and night out and play the same way we’ve been playing, we have nothing to worry about.”

Playoffs are scheduled to begin April 21.