The Rookie Round-Up gives ECHL fans the chance to get to know a rookie who has signed with an ECHL team for the 2018-19 season. This week, the ECHL spoke with Alex Rauter of the Wheeling Nailers. Rauter appeared in three games for the Atlanta Gladiators at the end of the 2017-18 season after completing his college career with Cornell, but looks forward to getting his first full professional season underway in Wheeling.
Name: Alex Rauter
Hometown: Chatham, NJ
ECHL Team: Wheeling Nailers
2017-18 Team: Cornell University (32 GP, 11 G, 9 A, 20 P), Atlanta Gladiators (3 GP, 1 2 A, 3 P)
ECHL: What should Wheeling and ECHL fans know about you?
Alex Rauter: I think most importantly I'm a pretty humble, hardworking guy. I pride myself on my work ethic. I hope the Wheeling fans aren’t afraid to come talk to me or anyone else on the team. I think that Wheeling has assembled a bunch of good guys and they can expect a good team in the fall.
ECHL: You had a taste of ECHL hockey at the end of the 2017-18 season, playing three games for Atlanta. What made you decide to sign with Wheeling for 2018-19?
AR: Going into free agency, I knew that I wasn't going to go back to Atlanta, because the coach was leaving, as were some of the guys who I played with there. So I was looking for a new organization and when Wheeling called, it kind of all just fell into place. The Penguins are a first class organization and it goes all the way down to Wheeling. With guys like Tom Kuhnackl and Carter Rowney, and a ton of other guys who have made it all the way to the NHL starting at the ECHL, it just felt like the best fit. It's only 5-6 hours from my family in New Jersey, I really liked the team that they had last year and the system they used with the Penguins. I was excited when I got the opportunity.
ECHL: What are you most looking forward to in your first full season of professional hockey?
AR: I'm just excited to get started in training camp. I can't wait to meet everyone. I'm really looking forward to playing a ton of games. At Cornell, I only got in 32 games last year, so playing pre-season and 72 games, it will be nice to play a lot more games.
ECHL: What's one thing that ECHL and Wheeling fans might be surprised to learn about you?
AR: They'll probably be surprised to know that I've played almost every position. I actually started as a goalie, and was a goalie until age 13. At Cornell, I played defense for basically half of my junior year season and then even a few games this year just due to injuries, so I've played all over the board.
ECHL: Looking back so far on your hockey career, what's your most memorable moment to this date?
AR: I've had a lot of cool things happen, but I think the coolest thing was winning a New Jersey State Championship with all my friends from Chatham High School in 2011. That was really special to me; my mom works in the Chatham school system, my dad actually went to Chatham High as well and he was one of our Assistant Coaches when we won the Championship. It was Chatham’s first state title in hockey ever, so it was a huge deal.
ECHL: Are there any players that you would say you model your game after?
AR: I'm a huge Patrick Kane fan, I try to emulate the way he plays offensively. Then obviously, Sidney Crosby is as good as it gets. I really like the way he plays a 200 foot game - he's pretty reliable defensively even though he's always putting up points and scoring.
ECHL: How have you been spending your summer, what have you been up to?
AR: I train at Prentiss in Stamford, Connecticut. There are a ton of NHL guys that train there; Chris Kreider, James Neal, Kevin Shattenkirk. We train every day and skate almost every day. It's been a nice change because it's tough to find that kind of place in New Jersey, so I hopped over to Connecticut for the summer and it's been great. I like to go to the Jersey Shore as much as I can. It’s tough to fit in a bunch of trips but so far I’ve been twice. I took a family trip to Ohio to visit my sister who is working an internship there. We actually drove right through Wheeling. They showed me around the city, we did a bunch of tourist stuff, and ate DiCarlo's pizza. Other than spending time with my family and friends, that's pretty much as good as it gets.
ECHL: Do you know any of your new teammates in Wheeling?
AR: I actually played U-18 AAA Hockey with Danny Tirone. Similar to me, he graduated last year and then played a couple of games in the ECHL (for Wheeling) at the end of the season. We’ve been friends for a while, that goes back to like 2012. I think that's about it.
ECHL: Any last words you want the fans to know?
AR: I’m just excited to get going, it's going to be a really great year.