Over the past four seasons of UConn hockey, it’s hard to find a better all-around player than Max Kalter. The forward from Chicago, who proudly adorned the A on his jersey for this past season, just finished his senior campaign, closing the book on his remarkable UConn career.
“[It has been] absolutely incredible,” Kalter said. “The amount of stuff I learned off and on the ice, you know we always talk about becoming better people, and I think I’ve definitely become a better person, and the things I’ve learned here, and on and off the ice like I said, is special.”
Finishing his career with 19 goals, 41 assists and 112 blocks, Kalter could truly get it done on both ends of the ice. In fact, he was the only player on the team this past season to finish in the top five for both points and blocks, with his 16 points and 30 blocks ranking fifth and third on the team respectively.
What makes the block total even more impressive is that Kalter plays forward yet is always down around the net laying his body on the line for the good of his team. His 30 blocks was the most of all forwards for the Huskies and third out of all forward in the entire Hockey East. In a category where the top-50 are comprised of all but seven defensemen, Kalter’s prowess in that facet of the game truly shines.
That has been Kalter’s mindset throughout his career. Do what’s best for the team, like his hockey idols.
“I absolutely loved Nathan Gerbe, I followed his career throughout, he’s playing in the AHL now,” Kalter said. “Ben Smith, those guys, those kinda small stocky guys that just kinda do the right thing every day. And then I’m from Chicago so Jonathan Toews, a natural centerman like myself, so huge inspiration from him.”
In Kalter’s career, he has been a part of many great comebacks, big wins over ranked opponents, and highlight plays. However, one game from all the way back in his freshman year sticks out the most.
“We were playing UNH, it was the last game of the home season, and we were down 4-1 going into the third period. We tied it up, and then [Corey] Ronan scored the overtime winner. The place was incredible, so that was special,” Kalter said.
Kalter had his fingerprints on that comeback as well, assisting on the Huskies’ first goal of the third period and undoubtedly spark-plugging the offense.
Now, years later, Kalter can move on to the pros, as he hopes to continue his career as a professional. And when he’s done with that, he knows he’ll always have his family to fall back on.
“Hopefully play pro somewhere, obviously the highest league possible” Kalter said. “If not that, after my playing career I’m fortunate enough to have a family business, so I’ll probably join my dad, my brother, my grandma, my aunt, back in Chicago.”
His dad had the biggest impact on his career, and while for four years Kalter has been one of the staples of the Ice Bus, his dad has been a rock for him his entire life.
“I’ve had unbelievable coaches throughout my career. My dad, I’d have to say, was my best, because he never really forced me to do anything,” Kalter said. “He always said, ‘If you want it, go get it,’ so if I wanted to go shoot pucks it was up to me, if I wanted to go to the rink it was up to me. He always pushed me and told me like, ‘Yes, you’re doing the right things.’ He was kinda just my inspiration, my rock, would keep me right in between, not too high not too low, which was good.”
Kalter is optimistic about the future of UConn hockey, and as someone who was the anchor of what was perhaps the most exciting-to-watch line for at least the last month of the season, he has good reason to be.
“They’re unbelievable talents [Jonny Evans & Ruslan Iskhakov], makes my life very easy. I think what I do best for them is kind of keep them in line. I try to keep them not too high, not too low, just right in the middle. Kinda mean to them, but I’m nice to them I need to be nice and mean to them when I need to be mean,” Kalter said.
The Kalter-Evans-Iskhakov combination was responsible for a whopping eight goals and 21 assists over just the final eight games of the season. Now, losing their leader, they need to go forward and keep doing everything that Kalter taught them.
It’s not only Evans and Iskhakov who have a bright future with this team, as Kalter, like many, sees stars peppered all over this young UConn roster.
“Brian Rigali, he’s going to have a huge breakout year next year for sure,” Kalter said. “Kale Howarth as well. Wyatt Newpower is having an unbelievable year this year as well, the future for him is wherever he wants to go.”
Someone will have to step into the role that Kalter is leaving, and they will have big shoes to fill.
When it’s all said and done, Kalter knows how he wants to be remembered as a Husky.
“Be the guy that was reliable all the time. A good PK [penalty kill] guy, but can get goals when he needs to, get points when he needs to for the team, and just a solid defender. Two-way player for sure,” Kalter said.
Good luck wherever you end up Max, and thanks for a great four years.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.