Roseau's Max Strand piling up the points as Rams hope to break state drought
Strand, a 5-foot-9 senior forward, had four hat tricks in a five-game stretch earlier this year.
ROSEAU, Minn. — Greg Lund is the Roseau boys hockey team's first-year head coach, but the former bantam coach knew what he would inherit with the Rams.
Lund's son was a senior two years ago when sophomore Max Strand led the team in scoring with 50 points.
So it's perhaps not much of a surprise that two years later Strand has 24 goals and 22 assists just 15 games into his senior year, leading the Rams to a 13-2-0 record and a No. 3 ranking in the latest Minnesota Class AA poll by Let's Play Hockey.
"Strand is a special player," Lund said. "He has a work ethic like you can't believe. He's go, go, go. Our top two lines play a lot, and he's out there a lot and seems like he doesn't get tired."
Strand, a 5-foot-9 forward who likes to score on hard plays to the net, had a five-game stretch earlier this season in which he had a hat trick in four games. Strand ranks eighth in Minnesota in goals and eighth in points.
"He has a quick shot and it's hard as anyone in the state," Lund said.
Despite the deep tradition of Roseau hockey, the Rams haven't been to the Minnesota state tournament since 2014. Roseau has lost to Moorhead in the section title game each of the last two years.
That's made for a different feeling this winter.
"When you're younger, we always think you have next year but this is the last year," Strand said. "One last shot to make it to the state tournament. We're pretty senior-heavy. We have a lot of guys who know it's the last chance to make it."
The Rams have five players with 24 or more points. Kellen Murphy has nine goals and 26 assists, while Strand's linemate Noah Urness has 13 goals and 21 assists. Gavin Gunderson has added 14 goals and 15 assists, while St. Cloud State-committed defender Thor Byfuglien has six goals and 18 assists.
"We're a highly skilled team up front with two strong scoring lines," Lund said.
Roseau's only losses this season are to Class AA No. 1 Andover and Class A No. 2 Warroad.
The Rams lost to rival Warroad 5-0 — the only time Roseau has been held to fewer than three goals in a game all year.
"We didn't feel like we got whooped but the scoreboard showed it," Lund said. "I didn't think we played that bad. I think Warroad is a dang nice team. They played one of their better games. We're hoping for better results on Tuesday night."
Roseau and Warroad meet again Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Gardens Arena in Warroad.
Parity — in both Section 8AA and the entire Class AA Top 10 — has been the story of the 2021-22 season.
"You used to get a one or two seed and you were sitting pretty good for the finals," Lund said. "That's not the case this year."
After the season, Strand could play with St. Cloud in the NAHL. His USHL rights also belong to Sioux City. Before then, however, there's unfinished business in high school.
"We talk about (advancing to the state tournament) sometimes, but we don't bring it up that much — just a little superstitious," Strand said. "We all have the common goal of wanting to get there. Eyes on the prize. We have to make sure we're bringing it our all and continue to get better."