Bruins’ Kothenbeutel has picked up his game this season
Published 7:22 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2017
If there is a player who has a strong perspective on what it means to be an Austin Bruin, it would certainly by Travis Kothenbeutel, who has played for all three coaches in Austin franchise history and is on the verge of becoming Austin’s all-time leading scorer.
Kothenbeutel began his Austin career with a brief midseason stint under head coach Chris Tok, he played two years under head coach Kyle Grabowski and now the Division I University of Nebraska-Omaha commit is playing his final NAHL season under head coach Steve Howard.
Kothenbeutel recently scored his 101st career point as a Bruin, which puts him in third place on the career leaders behind Jay Dickman (119) and Brandon Wahlin (109).
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The 100-point milestone has put Kothenbeutel’s time in Austin in perspective.
“It means a lot. I wouldn’t be where I was today and I wouldn’t have my Division I deal if it wasn’t for [the Bruins],” Kothenbeutel said. “I’ve been here for three plus years and it’s been the best time of my life. I can’t thank the organization enough, I can’t thank my billets, my parents and everyone enough for having this chance.”
Although he was one of the top scorers for Austin last season, Kothenbeutel has taken his game to even greater heights this season. He has eight goals and 14 assists for a team-high 22 points in 21 games.
Austin head coach Steve Howard said that Kothenbeutel has learned to stay disciplined and not chase plays when he’s on defense. That has led to him getting more breakaway opportunities within the system.
“He would cheat the game sometimes before and this year he’s being rewarded by his efforts in the defensive zone” Howard said. “He brings a little bit of everything. He’s got energy, he’s got a little grit to his game and obviously he’s got a scoring touch. But most of all, he leads by example. He’s willing to block a shot in key moments and he moves his feet real well to get stops on pucks. His work ethic shows when he’s going and our guys definitely respond when he’s going. They follow his lead.”
Kothenbeutel said the structure of Howard’s system has given him a lift and he’s also been clicking with his first line teammate Evan Cholak, who has 14 points in 21 games.
“I think I’m getting chances because of the guys I’m out there with,” Kothenbeutel said. “I play with Evan [Cholak] and we’re clicking right now. We always get chances because we work together and we find each other. Coach has us playing a lot more structured game with systems and everyone’s been buying into it.”
Kothenbeutel, who is originally from Sauk Rapids, Minn., said he developed his love for hockey when his dad would take him to outdoor games as a youth. He also recalls watching his sister play, which inspired him to play.
Kothenbeutel started to think he could play college hockey when he reached high school and now he has his future locked up with his commitment to UNO, which takes the pressure off on game nights.
“It’s nice not to have to think about it,” Kothenbeutel said. “You just keep playing and you try to get other guys on the team deals.”