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Emotional year for Rams: Sports Illustrated to capture success of tiny Roseau

Sports Illustrated is putting the Roseau (Minn.) High School boys hockey program in this week's edition of the magazine. The peg is Roseau's ability to compete for state Class AA titles despite its small population (2,700) and enrollment (325 stu...

Sports Illustrated is putting the Roseau (Minn.) High School boys hockey program in this week's edition of the magazine.

The peg is Roseau's ability to compete for state Class AA titles despite its small population (2,700) and enrollment (325 students in grades 10-12).

The magazine, which will put the Roseau feature in its high school section, might touch on a few other subjects as well.

After all, there are plenty of feature angles involving this year's Rams, who defeated Grand Rapids 5-1 in the state Class AA final for the school's seventh title Saturday in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Roseau head coach Scott Oliver attended the funeral of his nephew in Maple Lake, Minn., the morning of the state championship game. U.S. Marine Sgt. Chad Allen, 25, was killed at the end of February in Iraq.

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"I knew I had a job to do, and I needed to stay focused on the job I had to do with our team," Scott Oliver said. "That was a priority for me, too. But it also was a priority for me and my son to get to that funeral Saturday morning."

Saturday ended with sophomore forward Nick Oliver, Chad Allen's cousin and Scott Oliver's son, scoring the final goal in Roseau's victory against Grand Rapids. Nick Oliver also attended the funeral, after telling his father the first obligation for both of them was to be with family in Maple Lake.

The Olivers left for the funeral at 7 a.m. and returned to the team hotel about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. After a 2 p.m. team meal, the team headed to the rink at about 5:15.

Nick then went out and scored his third goal of the three-day state tournament.

"It was a great ending, to share the state championship with the members of the team and my coaching staff, to watch them and then to have the opportunity to share it with my son," coach Oliver said.

After the game, Scott Oliver gave his gold medal to Sean Biermaier, a Roseau senior third-string goalie who Oliver said handled his limited role with the team well during the season. Roseau can order extra gold medals, but Scott Oliver didn't know that when he gave his to Biermaier.

"We could only dress two goalies once tournament time came, and he was the odd man out," coach Oliver said of Biermaier. "I just told him my son has a medal; we don't need two in our family, so I gave him mine."

Assistant coach Andy Lundbohm didn't know about the ability to order extras, either, when he gave his gold medal to junior forward Jason Fabian, who missed the tournament with an ankle injury.

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It was quite a week for the Rams, who celebrated with more than 1,500 fans in the high school gymnasium Monday night.

"The gym was packed from top to bottom," Gotziaman said.

Yes, Roseau fans are passionate about the game.

"You have 15-, 16-, 17-year-old boys, young men, bringing adults to tears," coach Oliver said. "They cried. They bawled. . . . That to me kind of sums up, kind of gives you goose bumps a little bit, when the reality sets in that we did win a state championship."

Scott Oliver said he's enjoying himself this week.

"Around this town, you're only as good as your last win," he said. "So right now, I feel pretty good."

Scott Oliver made some tough decisions in 2006-07, cutting one senior goalie, benching another senior goalie in favor of a sophomore phenom and juggling forward lines to find the right mix.

Some of those decisions weren't met with 100 percent approval.

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"I like the fact that people are passionate about the game," the coach said.

Reach Fee at 780-1127, (800) 477-6572 ext. 127 or kfee@gfherald.com . Read his blog at www.areavoices.com/fee .

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