Poway’s Herrman returns to USHL in career path to NHL
Former L.A. Jr. King, Anaheim Jr. Ducks and San Diego Jr. Gulls standout Rory Herrman has faced off his second season with the Green Bay Gamblers in the United State Hockey League (USHL).
Herrman, 18, a native of Poway in San Diego County, said his goal for this season is to build on the foundation he established last season.
“I was the youngest kid on the team last season, so I knew playing time wasn’t going to be what it was like in California,” explained Herrman, who collected one goal, two assists, 39 penalty minutes and a minus-3 rating in 37 games. “With that being said, I primarily set my goals to things such as work ethic and overall progress as a player.”
Herrman said his goals and expectations for his second season in Green Bay are to mirror the goals and expectations of his first season.
“I’m going to work hard and get better every day,” he said. “My dad has always told me no matter my status on any team — whether it be top three forwards or the bottom three forwards — just work hard every day.
“I don’t think I’ll ever set goals for how many points I want to get in a year. I am more focused on my overall progress as a player. I know that if I work hard and train right, the points will follow.”
So far, the points have followed for the six-foot, 190-pound left wing after facing off the 2017-18 season with two goals, two assists, four penalty minutes and a +4 rating in seven games.
Herrman said the structure and top-level coaching available with the Gamblers enabled him to progress not only as a hockey player but also, perhaps just as importantly, mature as an individual.
Ducks director of player personnel Alex Kim called Hermann “an extremely hard worker, (who) competes hard, is physical and shoots the puck very well.”
Herrman lives by those attributes.
“I was the hardest-working guy every day and made sure I used the opportunity with the great facilities and coaches to make sure I got better every single day,” Herrman offered in describing his ongoing development during his first season in the USHL. “At the end of the year, I looked back and knew that I was a workhorse and I had really developed into a better hockey player than the previous year.
“I learned a quicker more structured brand of hockey and learned what it was really like being a professional in every form of the word. A lot of the vital things I learned in my first year in the USHL really tie into the whole professional lifestyle. You need to work hard, train your body correctly, energize your body correctly with the right food and beverages and lastly, train your mind to be mentally tough.”
Herrman attended Ashwaubenon High School in Green Bay last season; he is living with a new billet family this season.
“I’m with a great family this year and can’t thank them enough for all they do for me,” Herrman said. “All the billets on our team are great people and we really appreciate them helping us by opening their homes so we can have a nice place to live.
“Some of the things I’ve learned living on my own with a host family is that you have to be very organized and have a solid schedule.”
The Gamblers finished the 2016-17 season with a 34-22-0-4 record and missed the Clark Cup playoffs by two points.
“It hurt quite a bit,” Herrman related. “I hate losing and seeing that it was my first year in a league with a playoff format like all other high-level sports it hurt even more that we couldn’t make a run at a championship. I will remember the feeling this year and make sure I’ll do whatever I can to make a push into playoffs and aim for that USHL championship.”
With players coming from all parts of the country – and even out of the country – Herrman said it wasn’t too difficult to build team chemistry. Last season’s Gamblers team featured players from 10 U.S. states, including two players from California (Herrman and Long Beach’s Rourke Russell), as well as Canada, Sweden, Slovakia and Russia.
Russell, a defenseman, appeared in 59 games last season for the Gamblers, posting 10 assists, 82 penalty minutes and a +15 rating. He is now playing for Miami (Ohio) University this season.
“We had a good group of guys last year and an even better group this year,” Herrman noted. “With everyone coming from different places and backgrounds it might seem hard to gel, but all the guys are really outgoing and nice.
“Getting everyone on the same page might seem tricky but everyone comes into camp off a great summer of training and is really pumped for the season to start, so it’s pretty easy.
“We have a bunch of new faces in the locker room this year but at the beginning the returning guys really take pride in helping everyone out and making sure everybody feels comfortable so that everyone can play their absolute best hockey. It helps when teams are really tight in the beginning.”
This season’s Green Bay team features players from Minnesota, Missouri, Georgia, Wisconsin, New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Colorado, Illinois, Canada, Germany and Russia. Hermann is the only player from California on this season’s team.
“I’m on a little bit of an island from everyone else but they all respect where I come from and I respect where all the other guys come from as well,” Herrman said.
After an introduction to what real winter weather feels like in Wisconsin last season, Herrman said he is now prepared for whatever Mother Nature might deliver.
“The weather is pretty different here in Wisconsin than California, so it took me a little bit to adapt to it, how cold it gets and how longer the winters are … but I felt fine in my warmer-than-usual clothing.
“It took a couple weeks to learn how to drive in the snow but I took it slow and easy and I didn’t have any problems.”
Prior to playing in Green Bay last season, Hermann had made a commitment to play for Arizona State University’s fledgling Division I NCAA ice hockey team. He said his long-term goals haven’t changed despite electing to play another season in the USHL.
“My hockey goals for the future are still the same as when I was a kid,” he said. “I want to play in the NHL. ASU is definitely in my picture. I love Arizona State and cannot wait to continue my career to the NHL by playing Division I ice hockey for the Sun Devils. Words really can’t describe how excited I am to continue my development at ASU.”
Herrman said the inevitable has happened by living in Green Bay: He’s become a Green Bay Packers fan.
“It’s hard not to be when you’re living here,” he said. “The entire city lives for that team. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s sad to see the Chargers leave San Diego (for Los Angeles), but at least I’m living in the greatest football city in the United States.”
And playing the coolest sport on Earth.
Photo/Green Bay Gamblers/USHL
– Phillip Brents
(Oct. 23, 2017)