116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Let’s give you a scouting report on him first. Courtesy of his head coach with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
“He’s got a lot of good attributes,” Mark Carlson said. “He gets around well for a guy that size. He’s got good poise and deception to his game. He’s got a real knack for the timing on his body checks. A very tough customer. He’s going to develop into a really good, all-around defenseman.”
Now let’s give you a scouting report on Joe Fleming. Courtesy of Joe Fleming.
“I think I defend pretty well,” the first-year defenseman said. “I like to block shots and play hard. I think that’s what I bring to the table.”
And size and toughness. Don’t forget about those two things.
Fleming is a solid 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds. He has shown early in the United States Hockey League season that he’d just as soon hit you hard as look at you.
He leads the league with 78 penalty minutes, 26 minutes ahead of the second-place guy. He has dropped the gloves, admits he’s been a bit too overzealous at times with his physical play.
He’s learning. The RoughRiders (5-5) have won four of five games going into their home game Saturday night against the Des Moines Buccaneers.
Cedar Rapids beat the Bucs, 5-3, Friday night in Urbandale.
“I do enjoy that part of it, yeah,” Fleming said. “Obviously, I’ve got to tone it down a little bit, but I think I do enjoy it, yes.”
Let’s move on to Fleming’s backstory, which is a pretty good one. The 18-year-old from Wellesley, Mass., likely gets his tough nature on the ice from his father.
The older Joe Fleming played hockey back in the day, was good enough to be drafted by the St. Louis Blues when he was in high school. But football became his sport, playing defensive line at the University of New Hampshire and then 10 years in the Canadian Football League for the British Columbia Lions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders.
He was an all-CFL guy four times and won a Grey Cup.
“My dad played both hockey and football at New Hampshire for his first year, then he had to stop (hockey) because he’d gained weight and stuff. He ultimately just chose football,” Fleming said. “I never did play football. Never got into it. My parents put me on skates when I was, like, 2, maybe. Me and my sister … They put us on at a young age, and I just fell in love with it.”
Erin Fleming, by the way, plays on the Sacred Heart University women’s hockey team, also playing defense. Older sister Maddie was born in Calgary and has dual citizenship.
Don’t forget mom giving him some good athletics genes, too. Stacy Fleming played soccer and is in the Assumption College athletics hall of fame.
The older Joe Fleming owns a real-estate company in the Boston area. That’s where the younger Joe Fleming will play his college hockey, a Northeastern University commit.
“I just fell in love with the coaching staff there,” he said. “I always watched them growing up. I loved everyone there. It’s 15 minutes from my house.”
But first, obviously, comes getting ready for college hockey. Fleming has a goal in eight games and a plus-minus rating of plus one.
It’s a big adjustment from prep school, where he was last winter, and he feels progress.
“Cedar Rapids is a really cool place,” he said. “I’ve never really been to a place like this before. It’s all new, but it’s awesome.
“I think it’s just work on everything. Get quicker, stay in shape, doing everything right. I feel like that’s what I need to do. Obviously you can get better at everything, so I want to do that.”
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