Spencer Roth has his goals set high for the 2013-2014 season, and he's willing to work hard to reach them.
"Nothing is given to you; nothing is handed to you in life." Roth says. "You can only achieve what you want and you are the only one that can get yourself there."
The 19-year-old defenseman is new to the Junior team, but not to Dallas Ice Jets organization.
Roth, originally from San Diego, California, started playing with his first hockey stick, in his garage, at the age of three. Later at age five he learned how to skate and play hockey. It was seeing a professional hockey team in Phoenix, Arizona, that made him want be a player.
"My parents took me to see the professional team there and in between periods they had young kids skate around and play. That fascinated me at the time and started it all."
As a youth, Roth put his skills to the test in both the offensive and defensive positions. He later came to find that the defensive position was where he was most comfortable for the way he enjoyed playing the game.
"Growing up you play all the different positions to feel out what you like and what best suits you. I definitely bounced around between offense and defense. When things weren't working out at one the other usually suited the way I played at the time. Defense just became a natural position change," says Roth. "It really worked out a lot better for me then playing offense, or even goaltender, which I don't think I ever really wanted to do."
Roth has been an Ice Jet for three years. He played two seasons with the Midget AAA team and when the season ended last year he drove up to Wichita Falls, Texas, to play for the Wildcats to finish off their season in the NAHL. Roth played 17 games (1a, plus-two) with the Wildcats and says that it was a good learning experience that will help him in years to come.
"I learned so much from all the coaching and experience I gained and that will really translate well into playing in this league," Roth says. "You can't beat that, playing against such good competition and playing with such good players every day. I was able to pick up on some of the things they did as well as some of the things they expected. I think I can really bring this experience to help some of the players on my team."
Roth also played two games with the Ice Jets Junior team last year. The styles of play, as well as the players, were a challenge for him coming from the Midget team.
"The style of play is different I would say comparing the two different levels. But other than that when you get to a point in hockey everyone has a basic knowledge of playing." He says. "The skill level is a bit different, but you are also playing against guys that are older and more mature."
Last season Roth played in 32 games and picked up one goal and 18 assists. This season he hopes to focus on his strengths and bring his best efforts to his team.
"As a hockey player I definitely think that my strengths are the brains part of the game. I'm not the biggest or strongest guy out there at times, but I can definitely think and see my way out of things," says Roth. "I can get the job done and make sure it's done, that's where I excel in hockey and it helps push me to be where I need to be."
The Ice Jets played their home opener on Friday, September 27 - a game in which Roth picked up two power play goals and one assist, earning first star of the game. Roth's personal goals as well as his team goals are working out for him thus far.
"Every year I make a list of things that I expect; I try to set my own goals. I make sure I try and achieve those goals because otherwise I feel you are not going to get anywhere if you don't have goals."
Roth has high expectations for both himself and his team this season.
"I expect that as a team we will find success through all the work that everyone puts in to be able to improve. I'm sure through the course of the year everyone individually will improve, which will help the team's game improve overall, accounting to wins," Roth says. "The possibilities are endless at this point for how far the team can go. It all depends on if everyone wants to make it work."
Roth hopes to play hockey in college next year. Though he hasn't decided on a major, he is interested in science.
"I hope to be able to skate while I go to school, wherever that may be, after junior hockey is over playing in college will definitely be my goal, and after that whatever happens, happens. But being able to play in school is where I want to take it and be able to get an education."
Roth considers his time in juniors an exciting opportunity that most young people his age do not get to experience.
"The most exciting part about playing junior hockey is the day-in-day-out work that goes into it. Being able to achieve the goals you have, not only for your team, but for yourself," Roth says. "The experience that you get is just something that not many people get, most people will go to high school, graduate and go to college. Being able to take a year, or two or even three depending on the person, off and really just focus on something and enjoy the experience."
Roth enjoys playing the game mostly but will always remember the private moments shared with his teammates.
"I love the adrenaline that you get and the excitement of being in the moment and everything that comes with it. I definitely built a lot of life skills that will always stick with me, as well as a lot of great friendships that you get from playing the game. Those are the intangibles that come from playing a game that everyone loves and enjoys being around."
Roth will also remember all the time spent on the ice in practice and in games with his coach, Paul Taylor.
"I enjoy his attitude toward the game and everything that he brings to us daily in practice. I enjoy being around him, he brings a great attitude for us in practice every day. It's just fun," says Roth. "He helps our team get where we need to be to play games and be a competitive team."
As Roth plays, what he hopes will be his last year in Juniors, he is reminded of how fast it all went by. He says times spent with the Ice Jets are times he will never forget, and would advis
e future players to respect their time playing in Juniors.
"Take advantage of all the great opportunities you have available to you while you can, and make good use of your time. You can only play for so long so take advantage of the time you spend playing and enjoy it."
Roth says coming to Dallas was a game changer for him and as his life moves forward he will always have the time he spent with the Ice Jets, the wins, the practices, and the memories.
"It's something that has gone really well for me and I wouldn't change my experiences for anything."
Photo by Mark Mauno.
Njeri Sims is a video editor, writer, and fashion designer living in Dallas.
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