Glenwood’s Kauffman heading to Northwood for hockey |

Glenwood’s Kauffman heading to Northwood for hockey

Glenwood goaltender Rio Kauffman stops a shot earlier in the season. The 14-year-old netminder will head to Northwood Academy in Lake Placid, NY next year for school and hockey. (PROVIDED)
Staff Photo |

For a 14-year-old, Glenwood Grizzlies netminder Rio Kauffman has had quite the hockey life up to this point, where he’s been featured in net for the last six years. Fortunately for him, it’s about to get a whole lot better.

Over the last few weeks Kauffman has received acceptance letters to The Northwood School in Lake Placid, New York and Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minnesota, allowing him to play hockey at a high level for the next four years.

Recently, Kauffman made the choice to attend Northwood Academy, where they’re going to start up a U16 team that will prominently feature Kauffman in net, allowing him to continue to grow at the position. With the new U16 team, Northwood hired former Division III head coach Trevor Gilligan from NY State University Canton, to lead the squad. Gilligan recently told Kauffman he wants him to be featured on the team and grow with the rest of the group.

Kauffman will get the opportunity to practice each day on the famous “Miracle On Ice” arena where Herb Brooks led the 1980 Team USA squad made up of all college hockey players to a stunning win over the USSR powerhouse team.

Along with Gilligan, his father is the goaltending coach for the Northwood prep team, so Kauffman will have hands-on coaching from his position coach on the varsity team, allowing him to work with Kauffman on the ice every practice as well as weekly support on the mental preparation needed to play at a high level.

All of that played a big part in Kauffman choosing Northwood as his next place of competition, where he’ll head to Labor Day Weekend to start his next path.

“After everything I’ve learned about Northwood I’m just so excited about heading there,” Kauffman said.

Despite choosing Northwood over Shattuck-St. Mary’s — the former home of current Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby — Kauffman said that he’ll still be able to go back and try out for one of their teams in the future, should he choose to. But right now he is excited to be part of the start-up U16 Northwood team and thinks it’s a great way for him to move into this high level of play.

For the Grizzlies this past season, Kauffman was a rock in the net, leading the Grizzlies’ Bantam A team to a 13-1-3 record, going 11-1-3 overall on the year with a 1.29 goals against average and a .942 save percentage. Kauffman has been his team’s No. 1 goalie for the past five seasons along with playing on CO AA (Mt Wilderness and RFV Knights) and AAA (CO Thunderbirds, CO Kodiaks) teams. He has helped his Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association’s team win six championships, including the league championship in 2016 and the state championship in 2015 in which he pitched a shutout in net in the championship game. For three seasons he has had the highest save percentage for all goalies his age in the Continental Dividie Youth Hockey League.

The young netminder stressed that his Grizzlies coaches — Adam McPherson and Jay Mencimer ,who have been his coaches since Mites with GSYHA — have helped him and the team have opportunities they would not be able to access in our region by simply taking them to many tournaments to play against the highest level in Colorado, Utah, Minnesota and Michigan, where the Grizzlies traveled to during the Regional Silver Sticks, which is essentially the “Little World Series” of youth hockey.

His play in net over the last six seasons (and especially this past season) raised awareness about his game, which played a role in him spending some time with Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending coach, Steve Briere, while also working in the past with current Minnesota Gophers goaltending coach Justin Johnson.

Kauffman did a camp with Johnson and then went to Minnesota this past season where he skated on synthetic ice (plastic goalie crease that can be skated on) before then practicing on real ice with Johnson.

With Briere, Kauffman and his mother, Leigh McGown, the principal at Yampa Mountain High School in Glenwood, spent some time in Toronto this past winter working and training with the NHL goaltending coach on things like the mental and physical side of training and the game itself.

“It was a really amazing experience,” Kauffman said. “It wasn’t expected at all, but I went to some camps in Aspen. He had been scouting me for about a year. He wasn’t able to make it to the camp, but I was able to do weekly phone calls with him regarding nutrition and training and things like that. Then I was able to go up to Toronto and work with him while also taking in some Maple Leafs practices.”

Kauffman said the biggest thing he took away from the winter with Briere was that he has to work hard every single day regardless of the level.

The young netminder has a great opportunity in front of him, considering Northwood is one of the top prep programs in the United States .

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