GK Rotolo Returns To RoughRiders

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Probably only the most diehard Cedar Rapids RoughRiders fan remembers Michael Rotolo being here two years ago.

It wasn’t for very long, he figures about four or five days. The Riders were in need of an emergency goaltender because of injuries, and he sat in for a weekend.

Rotolo could have stayed with the RoughRiders a while longer but decided to go back home to Rochester, N.Y., to finish high school. Maybe he just had a premonition that he’d be back some day.

He is, acquired in a trade last week from the Green Bay Gamblers.

“I got the news and knew I’d been here before,” Rotolo said. “I was excited. I hadn’t played in awhile in Green Bay, so I knew getting over here, I was going to get a chance to play right away. It was a good feeling.“

Funny how the circumstances surrounding Rotolo’s return are so similar to the first time around. Cedar Rapids needed a goalie because Steve Michalek was told by Harvard — where he was involved in a widespread academic cheating scandal — a couple of weeks ago he should stop playing with the RoughRiders or risk losing eligibility there next season.

Rotolo was thrown right into the fray last weekend, playing well in three consecutive games, picking up a win and losing in a shootout and overtime. There was little rust evident for a guy who hadn’t played in about a month.

“I played in 17 straight games, (but) had a few downer games in Green Bay,” Rotolo said. “I don’t know what happened there. I was a healthy scratch a couple of games, too. So I told Coach (Derek Lalonde) I felt like I needed to go somewhere else and play. He put the news around the league … Hadn’t played in close to a month, so to play three in a row was fun. Obviously everyone loves playing. I thought for having a month off, I played pretty well. You can always be better, but for my first games in a long time, I felt I played well.”

Rotolo was a backup last season for Green Bay, going 13-2-1 for a club that won the Clark Cup. He was 14-8-1 with a .901 save percentage in 25 games this season.

He recently de-committed from St. Lawrence University, so is looking for a college. He said his plans right now are to return to Cedar Rapids next season.

“It’s an open book. Just keep playing, have some schools watch and see what happens,” he said. ”It’s kind of out of my hands, out of my control. All I can control is how I play.“

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