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Mid-day amusement Judd Zulgad and goalie Alec 'Rocjards' Richards

Posted by: Michael Rand under NHL news Updated: January 30, 2013 - 2:48 PM

A short while ago, we received an e-mail from former Star Tribune colleague and current 1500-AM radio host Judd Zulgad. It read:


Let's Play Hockey just tweeted this! Rocjards is back!

G Alec Richards (Robbinsdale, MN/Yale) has been reassigned from Rockford (AHL) to Dresden (Germany)

This "Rocjards" portion of the e-mail would have seemed like pure gibberish to pretty much anyone else. But to us, it was a reminder of an unfortunate mistake (by Judd) and a laugh we have had many times since it happened. With Judd's approval, we are now letting you in on the joke.

So: On Feb. 21, 2004, Judd was back in the Twin Cities after spending a year covering the Green Bay Packers for our newspaper (remember that?). He was filling in on various other subjects, and he was a huge hockey fan. So he drew some assignments covering high school hockey, which we were also covering a lot of at the time. Judd was sent out to cover a game between Breck and Blake, two of the top teams in Class 1A. These were the first few paragraphs of his account:

The Breck boys' hockey team clinched the Tri-Metro title outright Saturday in its regular-season finale, but there weren't many smiles as the players skated off the ice That was because Blake freshman Mike Louwerse gave the Bears a
2-2 tie by scoring with 2 minutes, 53 seconds left in the third period before a standing room only crowd of 1,014 that included at least 40 NHL scouts and Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough.

"Blake played a great game and in a lot of ways deserved to win," said Breck coach Wally Chapman, whose team is ranked second in Class A, one spot ahead of Blake. "We didn't play our best, but got great goaltending from Alec [Rocjards]. He was awesome all game."

Rocjards, a 6-3 junior, made 34 saves, including 13 in the third period when the Mustangs were outshot 14-4. Despite being outplayed in the first period, Breck (22-1-2, 7-0-1 Tri-Metro) took a 2-0 lead on goals by Alex Simcox and Jordan
Fulton. Rocjards stopped all 11 shots he faced. Blake forward Will Engasser - who is joined by teammates J.T. Wyman and Rob Page as Mr. Hockey finalists - cut the lead to one late in the second period. Breck, though, looked as if it might hold on in the third as Rocjards frustrated the Bears (22-2-1, 6-1-1) several times

That's four mentions of the goalie, "Rocjards." Unfortunately, his last name is Richards (pictured, right). On the game program that night, however, it was spelled just the way Judd reported it. We can only imagine that whomever was typing in the rosters had their right hand one space too far to the right on the ol' home row when they typed his name (try it). Judd, knowing plenty about the Packers' increasingly lost seasons (they would lose to the Vikings in the playoffs the very next year) but very little specifically about that year's high school hockey landscape, made the same assumption most of us would make: that the spelling in the program was correct.

The Richards family, however, was not as impressed. We can't remember if the call came to us or Judd, but it was not an easy one to explain (we did run a correction, of course). Nine years later, though, Richards is still playing. And we continue to laugh about the mishap with Judd.


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