BY RANDY SCHULTZ –
During the second period of a recent hockey game between RIT and Union College at the Gene Polisseni Center in Rochester, NY, Tigers right winger Emma Roland steps on the ice. With her team trailing in the game, it is one of those situations where a player has to take a chance.
As a Union player skates across her team’s blue line Roland poke-checks the Union players stick, jarring the puck loose. Suddenly Roland finds herself on a breakaway skating in on the Dutchwomen’s net.
Roland skates in on Union netminder, Olivia Rinzel. Stickhandling the puck, the Tigers right winger goes to her backhand shot. Unfortunately for the RIT forward, Rinzel gets her glove on the rising puck and makes the save, stopping play.
Although Roland may have missed on this scoring attempt, she knows she will have others. And anyone who has followed Roland’s hockey career knows there will be many more scoring opportunities for her.
Now in her second season on the RIT women’s hockey team, Roland’s reputation as a scorer is well known. Prior to attending RIT, Roland set goal scoring records for the Williamsville High School girls hockey team.
She led her Williamsville team to the New York State Girls High School Hockey Championship in her junior year (2018-19). Williamsville almost won back-to-back championships in her senior year, unfortunately losing in the NYS girls high school championship contest.
But that was then and this is now. Roland has appeared to have made the adjustment to D1 women’s hockey without many problems.
“I’m so happy that I chose RIT,” commented the 5’-4” Roland. “I’m having a great time here with the team.
“What I have here is everything I worked for when I was younger. It was the best decision I could have made.”
But Roland will be the first to admit that her freshman year with the Tigers was not what she expected, especially with the Pandemic and the COVID outbreak.
“Last year was hard, especially not having fans around,” remarked the Williamsville, NY native. “But it makes what we have this year even better.
“It makes us more grateful everyday that we have all our games and our fans back. This year we get those consistent weekends with games and all.
“Last year it was a day-by-day situation. You didn’t know how many girls you would have on your bench for a game.
“You didn’t know how many games you would have because there were so many games cancelled and then rescheduled.”
With some college experience under her belt, what advice would Roland give to any high-school age girls playing hockey?
“I really think they should all strive to play (college) hockey,” answered the daughter of Tracy and James Roland. “My Williamsville experience really helped me get here.
“They should enjoy the game. I had so much fun playing in high school. And I’m still having fun playing the game in college.”
There is an obvious difference going from high school hockey to playing college hockey.
“It’s a lot faster here,” stated Roland. “It’s a lot more physical too.”
And while Roland may have had the quick moves during his playing days in Williamsville, she knew she would have to step up her game once she got to college.
“It started in my freshman year,” said Roland. “I think I’m getting better at it this year.
“It’s faster paced, so you have to make faster decisions.”
With 11 freshmen in the RIT lineup, how does it feel to be a “veteran” on the team?
“It’s not something I would have expected as a sophomore,” sais a smiling Roland. “We have a lot of freshmen on the team, it still puts us in a good situation.
“We can teach them our culture and our program. We will grow together.”
One thing that hasn’t changed for Roland from her junior year in high school is her academic focus. Nearly four years after revealing and discussing what she wanted to do with her off-ice life, Roland is studying to be a Physician Assistant.
“I’m super excited about that,” remarked Roland. “There are a lot of science classes. I enjoy it.
“It’s a great experience here at RIT.”
(Photo By Janet Schultz Photography/NYHOL)