Riders' Olsson brings it, opponents better be wary

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CEDAR RAPIDS ó He was celebrating a goal with his other four teammates on the ice.

As he got close to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders bench to slap fives with everyone else, Ross Olsson noticed a teammate get bumped into by an opposing Waterloo player. Olsson didnít like that.

"He hit one of our guys going through the line, so I threw a shoulder into him," he said with a smile.

When you get a shoulder from a guy who is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, you generally feel it. The Waterloo player ended up on his backside.

Olsson ended up in the penalty box.

"They gave me the misconduct," he said. "They always get the second guy, huh?"

If anything describes Olssonís game, itís that little snippet. The 18-year-old winger from suburban Boston has impressed since joining the RoughRiders in a trade from Lincoln.

Itís not just the two goals and five points in his first seven games. Itís the 55 penalty minutes as well.

"Iíve always tried to agitate guys, either behind the play or during the play," Olsson said. "I just try to get under their skin. Itís everything, verbal and physical. Just let them know Iím there. They usually give it right back to me."

Olsson was asked about some of the things he might say to get under the skin of an opponent. He grinned.

"Thereís not much you could print in the paper, honestly," he said.

"Heís got size, heís an abrasive player, heís real strong on the wall," said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson, who has had his share of rough-and-tumble guys from Boston over the years. Think Kevin Brooks, Gerry Hickey and Jeremy Wilson.

"I think heís got better hockey sense, vision and hands than people give him credit for," Carlson said. "I think heís got a chance to be a really, really good player once he gets into a serious weight program."

Olsson, who will spend one more season in Cedar Rapids before heading back home to Northeastern University, is on NHL Central Scoutingís midseason list of top 2013 draft-eligible players. He hopes to get an invitation to a predraft player combine in Toronto early in the summer.

He doesnít know if heíll wind up getting drafted and is trying not to think much about it at this point. He has a season to wrap up here first.

"Carlson has been helping me with that," he said. "Donít think about, just play my game like I have been the last umpteen years. When it comes along, Iím hoping theyíll invite me there to the draft combine. When that times comes, Iíll be ready for it."

Olssonís hometown of Billerica, Mass., produced longtime major league pitcher Tom Glavine, who also was an NHL draft pick, and longtime NHL player Tom Fitzgerald. Could Olsson be the next big timer from Billerica?

"Being a big guy, I know Iíve got to work on my first few steps (skating). My acceleration," he said. "Getting to the puck more, being more consistent. Consistency is big in this league. Some shifts Iím on, and other shifts I take off. I canít do that. Iíve got to be more consistent and show that I can go the whole game."

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