The roots of a strong debut season for Colorado College wing Sam Rothstein can be traced to advice in the family car.

He was given plenty of good, practical tips growing up, from two uncles, Bill (Notre Dame) and John (Minnesota-Duluth) who enjoyed good college hockey careers, and his father Tom, who had a 64-point season (1983-84) to highlight a strong four years at Minnesota.

Sam Rothstein absorbed all the advice, but there was one nugget from his father that he took to heart as a child.

"It was never a bash session in the car after a game," he said. "You hear about some parents being hard on their kids but he wasn't. I really appreciate that. The only time he ever got on me was when he saw I didn't put in the effort. He reminded me that I need to give my best every game for the team."

As a result, the rookie from Minnetonka, Minn. is a consistent positive for the Tigers (2-16-4, 2-7-3-1 National Collegiate Hockey Conference) headed into this weekend's league series against seventh-place Miami (9-10-3, 3-8-1-1).

Two of his four goals ended with him getting his legs swept out from under him after he banged in a rebound from close range. It's that willingness to go into the hard areas CC needs.

"That's what you have to do," he said. "Most of the goals in the NHL are scored from close range (10 feet or less) and college hockey is no different. But the key for me has always been on the defensive end. If I play well defensively, you can see it in black and white (stats)."

Not coincidentally, he centers the Tigers' top-scoring line with senior left wing Alexander Krushelnyski (17, 10 assists) and freshman Alex Roos (10, five goals).

"He has had a tremendous first season," said Krushelnyski, who credits his linemates for aiding his recent points surge. "He plays all 200 feet, which helps him on both ends. Both those guys are smart players with good hockey sense."

That has earned Rothstein (10 points, six assists) big-time minutes on both the power play and penalty kill.

"His vision and passing skill are what we have needed," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "We like his leadership in the (locker) room."

The 5-foot-9, 171-pounder understands that he needs to become stronger to be more effective in tight spaces. CC assistant Eric Rud is understandably pleased by Rothstein's potential knowing he has the work ethic to develop further.

"He's had a real nice season and best of all, he is going to keep getting better and better," Rud said.