Rowe has quickly become a favorite of Lancers fans for his aggressive, old-school style of smash-mouth hockey. At 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, the forward — aka the Sheriff — cuts an imposing figure for opposing defenses. Through 33 games, the East Lansing, Mich., native has two goals and eight assists — including two in Friday’s 2-1 victory against Tri-City — and leads the team with 116 penalty minutes, third-highest in the USHL.
Q: How did you come about getting the Sheriff nickname?
A: I was playing for an affiliate of the Sarnia (Ontario) team, and I would go with friends to the rink to watch their games. There was one guy who everybody was scared of on the ice. His name was (Derek) Mathers, and everybody said he’s the sheriff of the OHL (Ontario Hockey League). The play slowed down when he was out there because if you did anything stupid to his teammates, he would take care of you. I said one day I want to be that guy, and when I got here, I had my chance.
Q: Lancer fans obviously enjoy watching you play, screaming “Louie” almost every time you take that ice. Do you appreciate that recognition?
A: I love that. Every time I hear that the adrenaline gets going, my heart pumps faster, I grip the stick a little harder. I can’t give enough credit to our fans, they’re absolutely amazing. Omaha Lancers fans are the best fans I’ve ever had in hockey getting at any level. They’re the best in the USHL by far.
Q: You’ve embraced the tough guy or enforcer role with this team. Which term do you prefer?
A: They both work; they’re kind of the same thing. Whenever I’m on the ice I just want to regulate what’s going on. If I need to drop the gloves to get something going, change the momentum or whatever, so be it.
Q: How do you want people to see you as a player?
A: I think that’s a fear every guy has now when it comes to the way I play. But the way I see it, you’re only getting 5 minutes for fighting, so you have plenty of time to showcase your skills and play after that. It’s an old-time style of play, but there’s still a place for it in today’s hockey.
Q: When you get those calls, do the coaches ever tell you to watch it or dial it back just a bit?
A: Coach (Brian) Kaufman trusts me a lot so he gives me the green light to do what I have to do. There’s a lot of respect we’ve given each other. As you go up levels, you’ve got to be more careful. You won’t see guys doing some things to officials, they’re more experienced the higher you go.
Q: What are the most important things the team needs to do to keep building momentum in the second half of the season?
A: We need to be staying within our roles and do them to the best of our potential. Everyone can get more physical because of our training. We’re going to be the fastest, toughest team in the league, we just need to play into that role.
Q: What are the biggest differences between playing in the USHL and other leagues?
A: The biggest difference in my mind is consistency. Obviously the USHL is the highest level I’ve been at so far. Consistency level is higher, as you’d imagine. The speed, the aggressiveness isn’t too much different. The depth in the lines is better because the third and fourth lines are still competitive. They can get the job done, they’re not liabilities.