New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Housatonic honors teammate in first game after player’s death

- By Michael Fornabaio; @fornabaioc­tp

KENT — For one night more, Housatonic’s No. 20 got the start. For one night more, No. 20 played for the Mountainee­rs’ boys hockey co-op.

No. 20 belonged to Marcus Rogers, who died Tuesday night along with his grandfathe­r, William O’Leary, on the way to practice when another car hit their vehicle head-on in Winsted. On Saturday, his teammates and family retired that number at the end of the game and honored him the best way they could.

“It’s something, you’ll never get over it,” Housatonic coach Dean Diamond said after TriTown’s 6-2 win at South Kent’s Stockdale Arena. “You learn to live with it.”

But Diamond said the outpouring from the hockey community around the state has helped ease the pain. Rogers’ father, also Marcus, said the same thing in a pregame ceremony.

“Four days ago, I never thought I’d be retiring this jersey,” the elder Rogers told the crowd. “It’s been a tough four days, but you guys made it a lot easier — it’ll never get easier, but you guys sure helped a lot.”

Rogers said his son played with many of his teammates for a long time, but that he had played with Housatonic defenseman Colin Goguen since they were 4. The family asked Goguen to wear No. 20 one more time. Goguen took off his No. 28 sweater, put on his friend’s and embraced each family member. And he rejoined his teammates on their goal line.

“Housy our family,” the elder Rogers said, “our son’s standing right there. I can see him with you.”

The ceremonial faceoff included both teams, lining up at center ice as normal. Kobe Brown won the draw back to Goguen, who slid the puck to a vacant spot on left wing, where it sat as the clock ran down from 20 seconds as the crowd cheered and students chanted “Marcus Rogers.”

They chanted that name more than a few times.

“So many people we want to thank, every single individual in this building,” the elder Rogers had said earlier. “Your support says it all.”

Rogers’ last game was Monday night against Mount Everett, Mass. Diamond said that school raised money for the Rogers family. (The family wanted to give the money to the team, Diamond said, but he told them no.) Housatonic athletic director Anne Macneil said several Mount Everett players were there Saturday night, as were many from Avon Youth Hockey, where Rogers had played.

It was a celebratio­n, but the pain was palpable.

“Grandpa’s driving grandson to work. What do grandfathe­rs do? That’s what they do,” Diamond said. “That’s what they live for at that point, ‘I’ll take my grandson.’ That’s what you love in life.”

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