Max Roth is halfway to where he wants to be, as he makes his final push to become a college hockey player.
By Steve Stein
The 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound defenseman will be returning for his second season with the Vermont Lumberjacks of the Eastern Hockey League. This will be his final year of junior hockey eligibility.
He feels he sharpened his defensive skills last year with the Lumberjacks. Now he wants to become a two-way player. To help achieve that goal, he’s spent time in the off-season working on his shot.
“I played to my strengths last year,” he said.
One of those strengths is being a big-bodied defenseman who poses problems for forwards.
Roth played in 34 games last season for the Lumberjacks and he had one goal – in a 7-2 win Dec. 3 over the Northern Cyclones – and five assists.
He wasn’t on any special teams when the season began but by the end of the year, he was on the Lumberjacks’ top penalty-killing unit.
Lumberjacks coach Doc DelCastillo is looking forward to seeing what Roth, 20, can accomplish defensively and offensively this season.
“Max is a solid defenseman,” DelCastillo said. “He’s competitive and a great battler. He’ll get better because he’s a hard worker.”
Roth’s hockey journey to Vermont was a long one.
He was a league all-star in his sophomore year at New Trier High School in Wilmette, Ill., and his team was the runner-up for the state title.
Roth left New Trier after his junior year to play for a new U18 AAA team based in Wenatchee, Wash. The Wenatchee Wolves were the only U18 team playing in the otherwise all-junior North Pacific Hockey League.
In Roth’s second year with the Wolves, they competed in the North American Prospects Hockey League and also won the North Pacific Hockey League championship.
Living in picturesque Wenatchee, a city of about 30,000, instead of a bustling Chicago suburb, was a bit of a culture shock for Roth.
Roth reached out to EHL coaches after his second season with the Wolves because he thought the league would be the best next stop for him in his hockey career and he ended up signing with the Lumberjacks. That meant another move across the country.
Roth has kept up with the academics despite his moves. He has a 3.25 grade-point average and he scored 31 on the ACT.
“I’m not super picky about where I’d like to go to school, but I do love the state of Massachusetts,” he said.
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