BUTLER TWP – Logan Rothbauer caught a break with the weather during his freshman year.
It was cold, snowy and miserable. Perfect for business.
Every day for two to three months, Rothbauer, a senior goaltender for the Butler hockey team, spent his time shoveling and snow blowing his neighbors driveways.
All of his money went into buying goalie equipment. By the time he had enough money, Rothbauer had developed plenty of self-confidence and rekindled his passion for hockey.
“I shoveled too many to count. I can’t remember (how much the equipment was),” Rothbauer said. “It wasn’t cheap. I take pride in the fact I earned it all myself and paid for it by myself.”
Following a two-year hiatus from hockey, Logan’s dad, Joe, suggested he work to pay for the equipment. Logan had spent the previous two years playing basketball after becoming disinterested in hockey in middle school.
When Logan told his father he wanted to be a goaltender, he was challenged to work for it. When Logan was younger, he had tried playing forward and defense.
“With him wanting to start back into goaltending, I wanted to see if he was serious,” Rothbauer’s father said. “If he was truly serious, he would work for it. He went out and bought his first set of equipment, it wasn’t the nicest equipment, but it was still a significant financial commitment. He did the work, but it was my idea.”
Logan Rothbauer’s work ethic has translated between the pipes. After some growing pains, he’s blossomed into a goalie that has the Golden Tornado off to a 6-5 start and is among the league leaders in several statistical categories.
Through Tuesday night, Rothbauer is third in Class AAA in total saves (284) and second in wins (six). Also, Rothbauer has raised his save percentage from .880 to .888 and lowered his goals against average from 5.03 to 3.34 over the past three seasons.
“I think some of it goes back to some of the work he does in the offseason,” Butler coach Mike Guentner said. “He works with private goalie instructors. I know what to expect. He’s solid fundamentally and always makes the first save and as long as we can keep the shots to the outside, he’s going to keep the puck out of the net.
Getting Rothbauer to improve, Guentner said, was all about developing new challenges.
For his sophomore year, Rothbauer was supposed to focus on eliminating the five-hole, between his legs, and six-hole, which is under the armpits. Junior year, the challenge was eliminating top-shelf goals.
“Every year, we’ve fixed a problem and moved onto the next challenge,” Guenter said. “Now, the challenge is eliminating rebounds.”
Improving hand-eye coordination normally starts in the hallway outside the locker room before games. Using two racquetballs Guentner gave him, Rothbauer runs through a series of exercises to prepare. First, he takes one ball and tosses it from his left hand to right. Then he switches from right to left and eventually works to throwing both balls off the wall at varying degrees to get practice.
“It was weird at first,” Rothbauer said. “Practice makes perfect. … It helps me get my gloves and blocker in order.”
Practicing has been the focal point for Rothbauer since he returned his freshman season. During the summer, he practices three days a week with Frank Gribbin at the Shane Clifford Goalie School in Pittsburgh.
“Over the summer, I’m on the ice constantly,” Rothbauer said. “I take every chance I can to get on the ice for as long as I can. With anything, I think any part of your game can be improved no matter how good you’ve gotten at something.”
Forced to work for his own equipment helped Rothbauer earn some self-confidence. It also helped him rekindle his passion.
“He’s definitely committed. He didn’t really show a lot of interest in basketball, either,” Rothbauer’s father said. “Once he got into the net, you could tell that’s what he wanted to do.”