When I reached out to senior Sam Rothstein regarding a profile piece on his future hockey career, he apologetically told me he was off campus and wouldn’t be returning until Block 8. His absence sparked my interest, so I gave him a call and proceeded to interview him over the phone, playing phone tag as he travelled in and out of service on several day-long road trips in the name of hockey.
After Rothstein’s fourth season playing hockey for the Tigers, he was not ready for his hockey career to end. He finished his thesis during Block 5 and left campus for a few weeks after signing an Amateur Tryout Contract with the Rapid City Rush, a team in the East Coast Hockey League.
The ECHL is the third most competitive professional league, behind the American Hockey League and, of course, the National Hockey League. Rothstein described the leagues as a “three tiered system,” and hopes to move up to the AHL within the next few years, and maybe someday move on to the NHL. “I just wanted a chance to play some pro to see if it’s for me,” Rothstein said. “That’s been the goal playing for the last two weeks.”
Rothstein achieved his dream by taking three summer classes and a Half Block, setting him 3.5 credits ahead of schedule. Taking supplemental classes and remaining on campus during the summers and winter breaks, Rothstein was also able to train harder for hockey. His dedication demonstrates one of his most admirable qualities: diligent work ethic. According to Assistant Coach R.J. Enga, Rothstein was fun to coach because he was always ready to work hard.
“He is such a reliable player—consistent with his play on the ice and his disposition off the ice, was always business-like and mature,” said Enga. “Coaching Sam was a privilege because of his work ethic, consistency, maturity, and hockey IQ.”
As one of the oldest on the ice at CC, Rothstein was a leader. That all changed when he joined the ECHL, “I’m back on the bottom again,” he said. “That’s a different dynamic for sure.” The change was humbling and perhaps even intimidating, but what Rothstein was struck by was how high the stakes are for so many of the guys he met. “It’s no vacation for the guys trying to support a family,” Rothstein said. “I was just feeling it out and looking for a new experience whereas they are earning their paycheck day in and day out.”
The profession is intense, but it’s what Rothstein aspires to do. He plans on playing in the ECHL next year and will try to move up to the AHL when the opportunity presents itself. “I think I would regret it if I didn’t try to play professionally,” Rothstein said. “I’ve been playing hockey at least two hours a day since I was three years old…so I think I should try to do something with [hockey].”
Enga believes that, because of his passion for and enjoyment of the game, Rothstein will make it as a professional. “You have to have that enjoyment to play the game at higher levels, and he definitely has those characteristics,” Enga said. “Also attributing to a long career will be his attention to the little details of the game: they are excellent.”
According to Enga, attention to details is what separates players who make it as a professional from those who don’t. Rothstein stays very steady in what he does, and Enga believes this consistency will allow him to prevail in the professional league. “I want to play hockey for as long as I can,” Rothstein said. “It would be unbelievable to make a living from professional hockey.”