By Jim den Hollander
While there were marked improvements over the previous season, the 2021-22 campaign was a rough one for the Dells Ducks junior hockey team.
But one of the best diamonds in the rough to emerge from the year was the play of rookie defenseman Jack Kopfstein, (‘05/Vista, CA). An online search by the young defender, looking to find a higher level of play than what was available on the left coast couldn’t have worked out better for team or player.
“Yes, I found the Ducks by searching online and looking around for junior teams to play,” said the smooth skating defender.” As a result, he attended a spring prospects camp in Lake Delton and both sides couldn’t be happier they crossed paths.
“Probably one of the best decisions I ever made,” said Kopfstein who before a season ending injury suffered just before Christmas, collected three goals and a dozen assists for 15 points, equalling a club record for points by a 16-year-old set by forward Jacob Cameron in 2017-18 despite playing just 29 games.
Despite being one of the youngest players on the team, Kopfstein seemed a perfect fit on the blue line and was perhaps the team’s most consistent and solid defenders on both ends of the rink. Kopfstein said it did not come so easy on or off the ice.
“It was definitely not as easy as it seemed,” insisted Kopfstein. I had to put in a lot of work during practice and during extra skates. The transition wasn’t too bad. The toughest thing for me was living away from home. The first month was a big change but after that it was easier.”
Kopfstein said the game is played differently in the Midwest than in California which added to the adjustment period.
“The style of play in the Midwest is much more physical and faster than California hockey,” said Kopfstein who clearly made the adjustments he needed to make.
While the injury ended his season early, Kopfstein has spent much of the summer off season in Illinois working with Rohde to continue his march up the learning curve.
“My training with Coach Rohde has been great. We’ve already made major progress from last season. I have high expectations for myself, and the bar is higher for the start of the season,” said Kopfstein.
The coach is equally as impressed with his young defenseman.
“We are excited to have him back this season and look forward to seeing his speed going up the ice on the rush,” said Rohde adding he wanted to wish Kopfstein luck as he attends the main camp for the Tier 2 North Iowa Bulls next month.
“My goals for the season are to triple my points and be more of a leader. I could quarterback the team, mainly on the power play. I think our team has a shot at having a top powerplay.
Kopfstein will get a chance to meet his new teammates this weekend when the Ducks host its tryout camp in Naperville, IL.