One of the NAHL’s most successful alums, Brian Rolston, a Michigan-born winger who scored 342 National Hockey League goals playing for five teams, retired from the league after 17 seasons on Tuesday. In total, Rolston appeared in 1,256 career NHL regular season games.
Rolston, who made his NHL debut in 1995 playing for the Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils, also had stints in Colorado, Boston, and New Jersey for a second time before finishing his playing career in the 2011-12 season, splitting time between the New York Islanders and a second stint with the Bruins. He appeared in all seven games of the Bruins Eastern Conference Quarterfinal loss to the Washington Capitals, notching a goal and two assists.
"Getting the chance to play the game I love for 17 years has truly been a dream come true," said Rolston. "My career has taken me to many great places where I had the privilege to play with some exceptional teammates and in the best league in the world. The memories of all my experiences will certainly stick with me for the rest of my life. I am grateful for the overwhelming support of my friends, family and fans throughout my career."
Rolston was drafted 11th overall in the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils. During the 1990-91 season leading up to the draft, Rolston was in his second season playing for the NAHL’s Compuware Ambassadors, where he led the NAHL in scoring with 95 points (49 goals, 46 assists) in 36 games played. In total, Rolston played two years in the NAHL, both for Compuware, where he totaled 168 career regular season points in just 76 career NAHL games. He had 85 career goals and 83 career assists.
Rolston has his name on the Robertson Cup, as he helped lead the team to the title during the 1989-90 season. During that 1989-90 season, Rolston's Compuware team posted a record of 42-0-2 (teams had ties and not overtime/shootout losses in 1989-90) during the regular season, making them the only team in NAHL history to post an undefeated record.
Following his two years in the NAHL, Rolston was recruited to play for Lake Superior State University, where he won an NCAA Division I National Championship in his first season, where he totaled 46 points in 41 games as a freshman. After recording 64 points in his sophomore season, Rolston signed a pro contract with the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him out of the NAHL back in 1991.
Rolston spent nearly two years with the AHL's Albany River Rats, before being called up to New Jersey for their first championship season and never looking back. Rolston will be noted for having a particularly excellent slap shot, as evidenced by nearly 350 goals, as well as his solid two-way play, learned by playing for many years under Jacques Lemaire.
Rolston retires having the rare distinction of winning the Robertson Cup National Championship, the NCAA Division I National Championship and the NHL's Stanley Cup Championship.
The Flint, Michigan native also represented the United States in international competition. He played in the 1994, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympic games, scoring seven goals in eight games at Lillehammer in 1994. He also played -- albeit, only in one game -- on the winning Team USA 1996 World Cup squad assembled by Lou Lamoriello. He also represented the U.S. in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and in the 1996 World Championships.