WNY Hockey Prospects

10 Questions: Max Kaufman


1.  You grew up in Pittsford, NY.  What was it like growing up and playing hockey in the Pittsford/Rochester area?  Who did you play for before High School?

Growing up and playing hockey in the Rochester area was a great experience for me. Due to the lack of players in the various towns of the city, I was able to play on travel teams with kids from all over Rochester, creating friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Not to mention the rivalries with the kids that always played for rival travel organizations throughout the years. The best part about this area is that there are so many great coaches so no matter where I would play, I’d learn from knowledgeable people as well as play with kids that had the same passion for the game as I did (still do). I played for pretty much every organization growing up in Rochester (Perinton Blades, Rochester Americans, Alliance, and Red Wings, Monroe County Eagles, etc.) and even a few teams in Buffalo including the Amherst Knights and Wheatfield Blades. My most memorable team is my Rochester Alliance team who made it to semis in nationals PeeWee Major year. So many great kids have developed from that team.


2.  After the 2011-2012 hockey season, you were named the 2012 All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.  You were also  a 1st Team All-State pick by the Coaches Association.  What was it like playing high school hockey in front of your friends and family and excelling like you did?

It was awesome. Making varsity freshman year was a great feeling as well as a confidence booster. Playing with older and more mature kids definitely helped my game that year which in turn supports my success in the next year. Sophomore season was almost like a dream, Everything went right that year for not only myself, but our team as well who made it to the state final. Being that successful for our town was indescribable because as we excelled in every game, the community noticed this and got more interested. By the end of the year, our whole town knew about us, including myself. Knowing that your friends and family watched you excel in a sport like hockey was a pleasure everyday. All the hard work since I began playing paid off in front of them. But I still couldn’t have gotten any of these achievements without my team and coaches, but most importantly my line mates at the time.


3.  When you played High School hockey at home with Pittsford you were a Freshman and were just 5’4” tall and weighed only 130 lbs yet you dominated Section V hockey.  What was it like being an undersized freshman who was your team best player?  I imagine you were a target for much of the season?  How did you deal with that?

Even though I was so tiny, when I was on the ice it didn’t feel like it. I remember, I would always as my teammates, and I still do today, “do I look that small out there?”. Usually the answer is still , “yes”. I think the reason why I was able to play great during my Freshman season was because I didn’t have any pressure. I wasn’t a leader, and because there wasn’t anyone looking up to me at that point, I felt free in a way and could just focus on my game. I think other teams and players saw me as a target due to my size more than the biggest threat to lose to because my whole team was a group of great players so by targeting me wouldn’t be that affective anyway. Also, I’ve always been the smallest or one of the smallest on my team throughout all my years, so being able to take multiple hits in a shift was familiar to me, so dealing with it was almost natural for me.


4.  I’m assuming that the decision to move to Kent to play Prep School hockey was not an easy decision for you or your family.  What led you to choose Kent as the best place to continue your hockey career?

Yeah it was a long and tough decision. Nobody from my family has ever gone away to Prep School so I didn’t know what to expect. It was hard on my mom mostly, because she didn’t know what to expect either. But after looking at all the pros and cons, my main goal was to play high level hockey and Kent provided me with this, as well as a great education. The coach at Kent at the time was the main reason I chose there along with the great program which proved to be the next season because my first year we made it to the New England Finals. Also, coming from Pittsford Sutherland, education is a family priority, so staying at a school with a high level education played a huge factor, and Kent provided this. This decision ultimately was the greatest one I could have made.


5.  Living away from your family at such a young age must have been difficult.  What were some of the things about living away from home that you embraced?  Alternatively, what were some of the things about living away from home that you missed?

I actually thought living away was going to be very difficult because I had never been alone away from home for more than a week. But once I got into the daily schedule at Kent, it was awesome. In fact, I would forget about my family days at a time due to how busy I was everyday. Being with my friends 24/7 was something I really enjoyed in the dorms, during sports, and for all the meals. Also, once I became self-dependent, it helped me embrace my maturing from a teenager because I had to learn new qualities such as time management and responsibility without my parents being right there. I still did miss my family though, as well as my friends from Pittsford. But once I fully embraced myself in the school, I tended to forget about many things I missed.m


6.  For many people that will read this article, the thought of moving away from home at such a young age might be intimidating.  What advice/thoughts can you give to hockey players looking to move away from home to further their career that might help ease the transition?

My first advice is that it is a great experience and in turn a great decision. Leaving home at 15 or 16 can be tough, but if you are leaving for a great place than it won’t be. I can only speak for New England Prep Schools, but they are all great communities where maturing and excelling in the classroom and in sports is present. If you are looking at one of these schools, find one that suits you and not your parents because you are ultimately the one who will live there. Everyone that I have talked to from Rochester that has gone to prep school has loved it and agreed with me that it is one of the best decisions they have made. I recommend Kent though, just because I went/still go there. Not only are the hockey teams great support groups for kids, but the whole faculty and student body are as well because you meet so many new people that you create friendships with. Lastly, a decision to go away is huge, so make sure that you take your time on the decision and choose the place that you really feel is the most suitable for you. Meaning it could be even staying home.


7.  The transition from Section V High School Hockey to Prep School Hockey in New England is about more than just athletics.   Academic success is not just a goal but an expectation for the majority of New England Prep Schools regardless of a student’s athletic prowess.  How do you manage the rigorous academic and athletic standards that Kent demands of its student-athletes?

Yes, that is totally right. Grades are so important if a kid wants to play hockey at the next level. The amount of doors good grades can open up is countless. For me this is easier to manage than most kids because I am a very hard worker in the classroom as well as when I receive out of class work. But the support system at Kent is unbelievable in case a student is struggling academically in his/her sport season. The teachers are on campus so they are always available to talk or even email. These teachers are coaches too, so they understand the stress that the students have to manage. I mean the only way to excel in the classroom and on the ice is simple. Hard work. If you are lazy, then your homework won’t get done, nor will your test grades be good. Then, this could affect your play on the ice. The expectation of success academically and athletically is expected from the school, but this can’t happen unless the you expect it as well or else it will never get done.


8.  This upcoming season (2014-2015) you will be a senior and one of the leaders for Kent.  What does the leadership role mean to you and what have you done to embrace the role as a team leader?

This will be my first year as a senior leader and also a captain of my school team. I left Pittsford as a sophomore so I was never able to become a true leader there. But at Kent, this will be my third year so I have lots of experience. Being a co-captain of this years upcoming team who lost 12 seniors last year will be very exciting. Being a role model to all the new kids and the old younger kids is an honor. My goal is to be a leader and someone in which the younger kids can learn from. If they all only learn one thing from me, I still did my job. The most important part about being one of these leaders is keeping healthy relationships with my teammates as well as my coaches. A healthy locker room translates to the ice. Also I want to be someone that my teammates can talk to about anything. It will be an exciting yet nostalgic year.


9.  This past March you announced your commitment to play NCAA Division I Hockey for the University of Vermont beginning with the 2016-2017 season.  What was the recruiting process like and what ultimately led you to choose the University of Vermont as the best place to continue your career/growth as a hockey player over the other schools that were recruiting you?

Well finishing my junior season, I was still kind of early in the college recruiting process. So not many schools had contacted me up to that point. Then the weeks following end of the season, Vermont almost came out of nowhere. I had idea that they were watching me and were interested until my coach told me when I was on spring break. Ultimately I talked to the assistant coach over the phone and set up a visit the following week. Then about a week after the visit I got a call and was offered a spot to play there. After all the excitement dwindled, it took me about another week to accept their offer to play. In the end, the decision wasn’t tough. UVM is a great school, with a great hockey program that offers a lot to their players, including playing in arguably the best league in the country in Hockey East. The only reason for the wait was I was kind of caught of guard in a way but also they offered me after the season so there wasn’t any other games I could play to allow other schools to keep watching me. When all is said and done, I can’t be more thankful and excited as I was when it all happened. But with that being said, it is just the beginning.


10.  Buffalo & Rochester have always been a prime location for hockey scouts, yet there seems to be an increasing amount of attention being paid to players from this area.   What do you think it is about hockey players and the talent level in this part of the country that has generated so much interest from scouts both locally and nationally?

No doubt about it, Western New York is a great place to find some outstanding hockey players. I think the reason for this outburst of attention is that scouts are just starting to see the potential in the players coming out of here that they want to get in on the action. For example, I think that prep schools should recruit more players out of this area because I know so many that could excel in that league. Also all the players I know from this area that have gone to prep schools or juniors have excelled on their teams. The reason for the great products of players this area produces is due to the development of them. The great youth organizations within the area seem to be developing some great players. It’s fun to watch and see players that I have played with or against growing up moving on to the higher levels as well.


Disclaimer: This article was originally posted July of 2014. This article has been posted to Archives due to February 2015 website rebuild.

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