By Julie Pelchar
Brad Rooney’s feistiness on the ice is often as noticeable as his speed and nifty play-making abilities.
The Reading center’s emotional play quickly made him a fan favorite last season, when he led the Royals in scoring and was voted MVP, Rookie of the Year and Outstanding Offensive Player by the fans.
“I think it’s my nature,” Rooney said. “I get involved, and I get vocal, and I’m pretty passionate about the game and I like to compete.”
But wearing your emotions on your sleeve can also be painful.
Rooney found that out after allowing his temper get the best of him Friday night.
Frustrated by a bad call and a subsequent Atlantic City goal, Rooney dug the puck out of the net, flipped it at referee Pat Britt and also delivered a few choice words.
Britt slapped Rooney with a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Boardwalk Bullies scored again just after his penalty expired on their way to the win.
Clearly irritated at what has become a recurring theme, Lohrei benched his second-leading scorer for the third period and then suspended Rooney for Saturday and Sunday’s road games.
Rooney returned to ice Tuesday for Reading’s win at Atlantic City.
“In my world, you don’t shoot pucks at refs; you don’t tell refs where to go,” Lohrei said. “You just don’t do those things.”
Rooney had also received 10-minute misconducts in a pair of October games at Trenton.
Royals general manager Ray Delia, who saw Rooney take similar penalties last season, supported Lohrei’s decision to suspend Rooney.
“I totally support David,” Delia said. “I know 100 percent that David Lohrei is going to do what’s best for this hockey team.”
Although Rooney disagreed with the suspension “nobody likes to sit,” he said he knows taming his temper is something he has to do.
“Those 10s I took earlier in the year, they were totally my fault, running my mouth to the refs,” Rooney said. “But the last 10 to 12 games, I’ve really tried to focus on controlling what I can control, and I haven’t said anything to the refs.
“It’s something that I’m working on and will continue to work on, but it’s definitely not a problem. It’s not something that takes away from my game, and it’s something like anything, with a little work, you can improve on.
“I’m not going to stop playing the way I play. I play with intensity, and it’s been part of my game forever.”
Rooney might think that the outbursts don’t take away from his game, but they clearly hurt the Royals. A 10-minute misconduct for Rooney leaves Reading with an offensive hole.
Rooney said he is sensitive to that.
“If a bad call is made, then it’s made and I’ll have a reaction,” Rooney said, “but if it’s going to be a reaction I feel is going to hurt the team, well, I’ve been really trying to focus on not doing anything that’s going to hurt us.”