Photo by Diane Cox
Alton’s Alex Rubin skates up the ice with the puck during the regular season for the Redbirds at the East Alton Ice Arena. Rubin will play junior hockey for the Jersey Shore Wildcats of the NAHL next year.
Since the first time Alton senior Alex Rubin laced up his skates at age 3, he’s had his heart set to make it to the next level on the ice. On April 21, Rubin took that step and signed a one-year deal with the NA3EHL Jersey Shore Wildcats.
“I know this is a dream that every kid has when they step on that ice,” Rubin said. “For everyone that makes it, they knew it was a longshot. Everyone we see on TV in the NHL, they all didn’t come out of the gates a stud. Just like them, I’ve worked hard since I was three. I didn’t know it then, but I was working toward this path since then. It’s really surreal and cool.”
Rubin, a 6-foot-1 forward, helped lead the Redbirds to the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association (MVCHA) North Division finals in the 2014-2015 season. Scoring 34 goals and 19 assists in his senior year, Rubin finished his prep hockey career with 59 goals and 71 assists.
“Alex will be an impact player for the 2015-2016 season and we look forward to having him on the team,” general manager and head coach Eric Brule said. “With him on the ice twice a day with us, that will help to develop him and assist him to be a potential call-up to our NAHL Wichita Falls affiliate in Texas. Alex is a well-rounded player and excels in his academics, which will facilitate his college placement in the future.”
One aspect Rubin is looking forward to is the Wildcats have their own ice arena and proceed with a strong work ethic.
“We’re going to be on the ice twice a day and in the gym,” Rubin said. “Working on speed, size and puck-handling skills will take a lot of time. Agility is huge. The man who owns the Wildcats also owns a Tier II team. He will be able to track our progress and see what we can do. I’ll have so much more exposure while being able to skate in front of the owner. Our coach knows the ropes. He knows how to help move guys along to the college level and potentially further.”
Heading to training camp in August, Rubin hopes his summer routine will help get him ready for the grueling schedule he faces.
“I’ve gone to Lake Placid, New York, the past couple of summers,” Rubin said. “I’m basically a counselor, but it keeps me working on the ice, too. A lot of coaches, colleges and professional players come in and I’m able to really pick their brain for information. I feel that gives me a leg up being able to get that kind of advice.”
Rubin plans to pursue his college degree in accounting and is considering online course options during his first season with Jersey Shore.
“There are a lot of things up in the air right now,” Rubin said. “I know I want to get a lot of my prerequisites out of the way and I think online courses might be the way to go for now.”
Rubin said his opportunities through the MVCHA and earning a spot on the league’s Team Missouri/White team gave him a lot of options for exposure. Rubin’s Redbird teammate Kain Henson and East Alton-Wood River’s Cole Ford and Seth Chester were also chosen to compete on the national stage in Pittsburgh the first week of April. Opportunities from colleges and junior programs are beginning to add up for the threesome. Henson recently announced he will play hockey at SIUE next season.
“I had talked with several Tier II teams,” Rubin said. “The feedback I received the most was, ‘You’re about at that level, we’d like for you to try out.’ That in itself is a great start. We’re given a deadline to make our decisions; after that deadline, the clubs can’t make the offer again. I think a one-year deal is a great place to start for me.”
To follow Rubin’s progress, fans can visit www.jerseyshorewildcats.pointstreaksites.com/ throughout the 2015-2016 season.