ALBANY, NY – With his AHL debut already behind him, Kevin Rooney will enter the 2016-17 season without those first-game jitters. The Albany Devils signed the Canton, MA native to an ATO at the end of last season and he appeared in seven contests. This offseason, the team inked him to an AHL deal.
Rooney, who contributed three assists during his stint with Albany, is coming off a successful collegiate career at Providence College. During his four years, he helped the Friars to the 2015 NCAA National Championship and a share of the 2016 Hockey East regular season title. He logged 144 games and had 36 points with 17 tallies and 19 assists.
Although his offensive numbers do not jump out at most, Rooney is best known for his defensive abilities and his leadership.
“I’m a two-way player,” the 23-year-old said. “I like to play defense first. I always feel like I get my best chances when I work hard in the d-zone and get up there in the rush.”
Head Coach Rick Kowalsky can appreciate the defense-first mentality, but will push Rooney, who had 10 points in 38 college games last year, to feel more comfortable in the offensive zone.
“Very defensive minded,” the Albany bench boss said. “I don’t want to say at a fault, almost. We want to try and get him out of that zone. He was a checker in college, obviously won a national championship. I really like his speed and the details of his game defensively. I think he can do a little more offensively, skate and shoot the puck. But another real smart, headsy player without the puck and he should be a good fit for us next year.”
Rooney captained the Friars during his senior season. He will now go from a veteran on a college team to a rookie on a professional franchise.
Regardless, being the new guy will not change his approach.
“I’m definitely going to try and look up to the older guys on the team and see how they do it,” Rooney said. “I’ll try to lead as best as I can with my actions. I think that goes the longest way rather than saying anything. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity next year. If I can lead in any way I will definitely do that.”