Healthy again, Vrolyk hits stride with NU

Northeastern University senior Robbie Vrolyk  (inset) learned the importance of skating, and anticipation, at an early age from his father, Rob , who played hockey in the junior ranks and collegiately at McGill University.

The elder Vrolyk has raised four hockey-playing sons.

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“Dad taught me how to move the puck and see the open man and he was tough when it came to skating drills. He could really fly around the ice,’’ said Vrolyk, a Boylston native, of his days with the Minuteman Flames, based at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough. “And it’s skating that gets you to the next level.’’ 

NU coach Jim Madigan  said he sees those qualities and more in his assistant captain, who has registered a goal and an assist through five games this season while skating the right wing on the third line. He also sees time on the penalty-killing unit.

“Robbie goes the extra mile in everything he does,’’ said Madigan, whose team was 2-2-1 entering this weekend’s two-game set with Hockey East foe Merrimack. “He has quickness and speed, tenacity and determination and he does things the right way. He’s dependable on the ice, and he’s a leader on and off it.’’

A 5-foot-7, 170-pound winger, Vrolyk played three seasons for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the US Junior Hockey League, and was a team captain in the 2008-’09 season.

“It was a really good league,” said Vrolyk, who attended Tahanto Regional High through his junior year and graduated from O’Gorman High in Sioux Falls, S.D. “We won the championship in 2007, and playing there made the jump to Division 1 college hockey a bit easier.”

Vrolyk showed promise his freshman year at Northeastern, scoring 6 goals and adding 5 assists. His plus-4 rating tied him for the team lead.

But hip and hernia surgeries limited him to 11 games as a sophomore, and even though he came back in time for the Beanpot Tournament, his timing and conditioning were not up to par.

Vrolyk got on a scoring roll last season — five goals in four games, including one in the Beanpot consolation game — before a high ankle sprain shut him down for the season.

“To be honest, I wasn’t as low as when I was coming back from the surgeries,” he said.

Vrolyk was voted the team’s Unsung Hero, and after input from the seniors, was appointed assistant captain by the coaching staff.

“It’s an honor to be a team leader. Playing hockey at Northeastern has meant a lot to me,’’ he said. “I’ve worked hard to come back, I’m feeling healthy, and that’s the best part, because I’m out there with my teammates doing whatever I’m asked to do.”

Campus achievers

Framingham State University senior forward Jepherson Cardoso  shared the Massachusetts State Collegiate Conference men’s soccer player of the week honors after scoring both goals in the Rams’ 2-0 victory last Friday vs. Mass. Maritime. The win gave the Rams (9-6-2, 6-1 MASCAC) a share of the regular-season championship with Salem State. Cardoso, a graduate of Framingham High, leads the team in scoring with 10 goals. The Rams, the second seed in the conference playoffs, are scheduled to host a semifinal game Friday at 2 p.m.

Seven graduates of Medfield High are captains of their college teams: Danny Gold  (Amherst men’s lacrosse), Jake Smith  (University of Massachusetts Amherst lacrosse), Amy Festa  (Babson College women’s soccer), Nick Nowak  (Colby College men’s soccer), Eric Boole (Hamilton College men’s soccer), Jake Kramer  (Colby College baseball), and Caitlin Barrett  (Middlebury College women’s volleyball).

The Wellesley College volleyball team will host the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference tournament as top seed this weekend. Semifinal matches will be played Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m. The championship match is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday. Wellesley, 27-4 overall and 9-0 in the conference, is riding a four-match winning streak.