The game of hockey has always been a part of Max Kaufman’s life. However, before Max’s arrival on June 26, 1996, the sport was never tried by anyone in his family. Not mom, dad, siblings, uncles, aunts, or even cousins. Max was the first to ever show interest in playing hockey within the Kaufman family. His parents told him when he was three years of age, he went to a free skate at a local arena with his sisters, and began pointing to the activity taking place on the ice. He wanted to try it too, and since then has never looked back.
“I would say my mom was probably the most skeptical of me playing hockey. I think it was because I was always the smallest player out there. I remember when I first started to play competitively around five years old, I was so small that I had to wear men’s elbow pads as shin protectors,” Kaufman laughed.
Kaufman tried his hand at many sports growing up in Pittsford, New York. Baseball, soccer, lacrosse, golf, and even had tennis lessons for ten straight summers. Through all of that, hockey always remained at the forefront, but Pittsford was not necessarily a hot-bed for hockey. In order to get his name on the map, he would have to move from home and look into prep schools. He chose Kent School based out of Connecticut, and turned out to be a fantastic decision.
“I really enjoyed my time at Kent and had a great three seasons playing for that program. It was the perfect move for me both academically and for hockey. Who knows where I would be right now without my experience there,” said Kaufman.
It was a Christmas tournament during his senior year, when Rivermen Head Coach and General Manager Bobby Henderson first saw Kaufman play. When Max was approached, he was not all that familiar with the Rivermen organization, but did have some help from former mates.
“Some of my old teammates that moved on from Kent, winded up playing in the BCHL. Every one of them I spoke to said that it was a great league and that Langley had one of the nicest buildings in Canada, and was a tough team to play against.”
Kaufman has always been the smallest of stature on most teams he has played on. When he was 15 years old, he stood at just 5 foot 4, 130 pounds and was not sure if scouts were interested in his services. After recording 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 25 games at Kent in 2014-15, his game was hard not to notice, and committed to the University of Vermont in January 2015.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to play college hockey at Vermont.The history that school has is really cool.They have a pretty good list of alumni that have come out of that program and went on to enjoy successful NHL careers.The coaching staff seem to be a pretty big fan of the smaller player in their system, so I was really happy with that as well,” continued Kaufman.
15 games into his rookie season with the Rivermen, Kaufman is third on the team in scoring with 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists). He admits there was an adjustment period at the beginning of the season, but is really starting to find his stride of late.
“It takes time to adjust to a new league and teammates. It all comes down to finding your groove on and off the ice. I was so use to juggling school on game days, but now I don’t have to do that anymore and I can just focus on hockey. I feel like my game is really starting to be where I expect it to be.”