Kobe Roth will remember April 7, 2018, for the remainder of his life.
It probably would’ve been enough for the simple fact that his hockey team, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, won the NCAA Division I national championship, but it’s the memories made during the game that’ll stick with the Mason City native Roth – the good and the bad.
Roth, a freshman who attended Mason City schools until he moved the summer before eighth grade, was a key contributor for the Bulldogs in their run back to the national championship game this season. He played in 30 of the 44 games this season as a forward and finished with nine points (four goals and five assists). But his season was cut short at the worst possible time – in the first period of the title game when he broke his ankle.
“It was obviously tough,” Roth said. “After I kind of accepted it was broken I just wanted to cheer on the team. That meant me watching with a few teammates on TV in the locker room.”
It didn’t take away from the moment, though, once the game was decided, a 2-1 win over Notre Dame for Minnesota-Duluth.
The ankle slowed Roth a bit, but there was no way he was missing out sharing this moment with his teammates. And now, there are pictures of him all over the place being pushed on the ice while sitting in a chair celebrating the victory.
“It was obviously not the ideal celebration, but I was just trying to figure out what to do, so I just grabbed a chair,” Roth said. “It was nice to have my teammates pushing me around in it.”
Roth’s journey to this moment was one full of sacrifices to chase his dream of playing Division-I hockey.
After his seventh-grade year at John Adams Middle School in Mason City, the decision was made for Roth and his father, Kelly, to move up Warroad, Minnesota, so he could chase his dreams. Warroad was the decision because of its hockey tradition and the town’s love for hockey, Roth said.
So, he and his dad lived up in Minnesota for four years while his mother stayed back in Mason City.
“It was incredible because my dad basically gave up everything he had in Mason City for me so I could follow my dreams,” Roth said.
He went on to lead all Minnesota players in goals (40) and points (85) his junior season before struggling with injuries as a senior. Still, he did enough to warrant playing at the next level.
The year after he graduated was spent with the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness, and then the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. He then played all of 2016-17 in Des Moines, where he was able to hone his skills even more.
“It was really nice to be close to home so my parents could come, and I lived with my aunt so I didn’t have to have billets,” Roth said. “It helped me mature and become a better hockey player.”
So that brings us up to Duluth where Roth already has a great start on what is a promising career. He’ll take time to heal up his ankle, and then the grind to help the Bulldogs repeat begins.