Anaheim’s Rogers family finding ACHA hockey a valuable experience
When Xander Rogers wrapped up his junior hockey career in 2019 with the NA3HL’s Helena Bighorns, he wondered what his next step would be.
He had some NCAA Division III options and wanted to go to a school that had a solid hockey program and a Computer Science curriculum.
In the end, the 20-year-old Anaheim native chose to venture into Michigan and play ACHA hockey for Davenport University.
“Davenport had my major and reached out with such professionalism and after a few weeks, they offered a tour of the school,” Rogers said. “When I got there, I loved the school, the rink, and the fact that you could potentially play five years of college hockey. Although, my favorite part about playing at Davenport is that I get to play a lot of different high-end teams on our schedule and have a chance of going pro after college.
“With my major, I am hoping to do either Artificial Intelligence or Biometrics. The goal is to get my master’s degree in four years and have a better chance of succeeding in my field. My hope is that I can one day work for an automotive company like Tesla, Ford or Audi, designing their AI software or engine software.”
Steve Rogers, Xander’s father, said he wants more families to be aware of the caliber of hockey the ACHA can offer.
“For us, ACHA was more appealing than NCAA Division III because the season is much longer and the quality of hockey at the ACHA Division I level is comparable to NCAA D-III,” Rogers said. “Hockey runs in ACHA from September to March where NCAA runs December to March and as a goalie, that gives Xander more game opportunities. Plus, last year, the NHL published an article on ACHA D-I saying it had become a league to recruit from so having a chance to play professionally was still not out of the question.”
Now fully immersed in the season, the younger Rogers has seen firsthand what ACHA hockey is all about.
“The ACHA has great teams,” he said. “At the highest level, some teams all have players capable of playing NCAA D-III or higher. These teams are comprised of serious hockey players who couldn’t crack a top spot on other rosters and decided to get tons of ice time and a serious chance to play. In addition, the ACHA is not only a great option because of its competitive level, but it also is a way that students can go to their dream schools and still play extremely competitive hockey.”
Growing up in Southern California also had its share of benefits when it came to youth hockey.
“When I was growing up in SoCal, the closest rink to where I lived was The Rinks-Yorba Linda Ice,” said Rogers. “To this day, it is still my favorite rink to play at in SoCal. My first in-house practice was at that rink, my first travel team, and even my first adult league team (funny enough, with my dad). To name one experience alone out of all of them from Yorba Linda would be too difficult. The rink itself is the most memorable part, containing a great sheet of ice and professional training equipment run by some of the greatest trainers I have ever worked alongside with. To me, that rink is what I remember the most.”
Rogers’ father agreed, saying that the youth game is exploding throughout the state.
“When Xander first began playing in-house in 2007, we could barely get a team together to play a team at another rink,” Rogers said. “When he started in Squirt in 2009, there was just A and B levels. Now, I think there are four levels and the number of teams at practically every level up to 18U and high school is double what it was then.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 5, 2020)