Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Freshmen trio progressing for Wildcats

OXFORD, MI – The three freshmen on the Oxford High School varsity hockey roster were all born in 1997, the same year the Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years.

So while forwards Steven Fowler, Scott Stubenrauch and Brandon Welch have always known winning seasons in Hockeytown, they hope to be a part of similar seasons with the Wildcats this season and down the road.

According to OHS head coach Dave Hague, all three players have contributed significantly this season and have the potential to be cornerstones in the Oxford lineup for years to come.

“It's important to get talented players in the program at a young age,” explained Hague. “It's what keeps the program evolving and allows these players to develop very fast. Our veteran players were freshmen once and they have all shown Steven, Scott and Brandon what it takes to play at this level and to their credit, the freshmen have taken it all in and have all improved their games since the beginning of the season. It can only go up from here for those three.”

All three freshmen feel they can become better players and morph into young men playing for the Wildcats.

“It's been challenging converting from such a low level of hockey into high school, but it’s been a learning experience and I'm always looking for ways to improve my game,” said Welch. “I chose to play for Oxford for the opportunity to play for my school and have a future in hockey. I feel like I'm going to get the most opportunities out of playing here.”

Fowler said that he wants to don the OHS sweater for all four years and then make the jump to junior hockey. He summed up this season, however, with a simple statement.

“This season has been great and fun,” Fowler said. “The coaches are very nice and determined to win.”

Stubenrauch said the high school level has been more intense than what he was used to.

“It’s a lot tougher than travel hockey with kids a lot bigger and stronger,” he said. “Playing for Oxford doesn't only make you a better hockey player, but a better person in life by doing all the little things that can make a big thing happen. I see myself in blue and gold for all four of my high school years – it’s great to play for the school you represent.”

“Once the second half of the season hits, freshmen really aren’t freshmen any more,” said Hague. “They know what to expect from the coaches and they go out and do what we ask and then some. All three of our freshmen are great kids and like I said, it’s going to be exciting seeing them progress at this level.”


Forward Tim Perks, a 2011 graduate, played for the Wildcats all four years of high school. After last season, he had numerous options at the junior level, including an invitation to showcase his skills at the United States Hockey League combine in Chicago.

He was an NA3HL draft pick (52nd overall) of the Metro Jets last June, but appeared to be headed to a higher level in the NAHL before a knee injury suffered while playing in Europe set him back. Perks is back on the ice now and nearing a return, hopefully for this season, with the Jets.

For more information on the Oxford Varsity Hockey program, please visit

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Couwlier happy to be back for senior season

OXFORD, MI – Dean Couwlier is happy he chose to return to the Oxford High School hockey team for his senior season.

He actually started out this year playing for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Midget Major AAA team, but in the end, went with his heart and his gut.

“To be honest, I missed the kids from Oxford,” said Couwlier, a senior defenseman. “We're a bunch of brothers and it's hard to get away from that. Our coaches actually care about your future and that’s a great thing.”

Couwlier played his sophomore and junior seasons in a Wildcats’ sweater and then was torn this past offseason. Oxford had just come off its first OAA White division championship and like the old adage goes, team success breeds individual success.

“This program (Oxford) is not like the others,” beamed Couwlier. “We all support each other as teammates and we have coaches that do everything they can to develop us into the best players and most importantly, the best men we can be.”

Oxford head coach Dave Hague kept in close contact with Couwlier during his decision-making process and was happy for him when he decided that Oxford was best.

“Dean is a great player and has improved tremendously in his time here,” said Hague. “He’s a very likeable kid and very coachable. I’ve already had some calls about him from North American Hockey League teams and I can see him making the jump next season. It’ll be fun seeing how far Dean can take hockey.”

The Wildcats’ alumni list has grown every season and Couwlier wants his name on the list next fall.

“Seeing my buddies move up shows me that the opportunities are there,” said Couwlier. “I want to push myself to reach the highest level of hockey possible.”

A team-first player, Couwlier has an idea of where he wants the Wildcats to be come March.

“Being 1-1-1 in the league (OAA Red) and 10-2-1 overall at this point, there is no doubt that if we give everything we've got that we can work our way to another league championship,” Couwlier said. “Hopefully, we can be the first team in school history to get to the hockey state playoffs, too.

“We have the talent and the dedication and it’s up to us to get the job done.”


Two brothers that played for Oxford, Blaine and Tim Marney, both play for the ACHA Division II team at Grand Valley State University.

Blaine, a forward, played for the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks in the NA3HL last year and is in his first year at GVSU. Tim, also a forward, played for GVSU the past two seasons and was part of the Lakers’ ACHA Division II national championship squad in 2010-11.

For more information on the Oxford Varsity Hockey program, please visit

Friday, January 6, 2012

A ‘privilege’ to play for the Wildcats, says players

OXFORD, MI – Nick Hocker and Connor Novack are veteran players with the Oxford High School hockey team and while both have had opportunities to leave high school hockey, they both have stayed with the hopes that a state championship can be housed in Oxford.

Hocker, a senior forward, and Novack (pictured), one year younger and also a forward, are both happy with their decisions to stay in Northern Oakland County and suit up for the Wildcats, last season’s OAA White champions who now play in the Red division.

“Playing AAA is good hockey, but then again our coaches (Dave Hague and Rick Ignagni) do a good job at getting our names out there and helping us out,” said Novack. “Most of all, it is just fun to play for your school and all of your friends.”

Hocker agreed.

“Everyone seems to get along and connect really well this year,” said Hocker. “I think this creates great chemistry between everyone and transfers over to our play on the ice and helps us work better together. We have a great coaching staff and a team that always wants to compete and win. Every time we step on the ice, we have a chance to win any game.”

Hocker is currently second overall in OAA scoring behind linemate Nolan Chapman. Those two play on a wing with Stephan Fritz at center. That entire line is 1-2-3 in OAA scoring, not an easy feat when one considers the competition level of the league.

“The competition in league play has greatly improved,” said Hocker. “I think it's more fun to play hockey with your friends that you go to school with because you can get a lot closer to everyone.”

“We have had some good flow this year with our lines,” Novack added. “Our team gets along really well together and we have added some good players to the roster. Our team has found our roles on the ice. We try to do all the little things right and when we do, we get rewarded.”

Both Novack and Hocker attribute most of the team’s success to Hague and Ignagni.

“Our coaches are one of a kind,” Novack said. “They care about us so much and would do anything to help us out. They are great coaches, they get us motivated and they know the game extremely well.”

“Coach Rick has been with the program since day one and has given the reputation that the team has today through many hours of hard work,” said Hocker. “That goes along with Coach Dave as well and they would give anything for any of us on the team. They put the team before anything else in their life and push us to get better and better every day.”

Two weeks ago, OHS traveled to Madison, Wis., to play in a holiday tournament against several teams from Wisconsin and the surrounding areas.

Hocker said the experience was a blast.

“It was a lot of fun to travel out of state and play teams from different states and see what the competition was like,” Hocker beamed. “When you go play in different states, it helps get the Oxford name out to these states. This then opens up great opportunities for future kids playing on the team and gives Oxford as a whole a much better name.”

Last season, the Wildcats played outdoors at Michigan Stadium, a game they won over Troy High School. Last weekend, Oxford was offered a chance to play at Progressive Field in Cleveland, but couldn’t match up schedules with a school from Ohio.

Obviously, as the Oxford program expands, more opportunity comes the Wildcats’ way.

Still, at the end of the day, nothing beats playing high school hockey, according to Novack.

“Playing for OHS is very different than playing for another team outside of school,” Novack said. “It is a privilege to play for your school and wear the colors and represent them.

“All of your friends get to see you play and it is a lot of fun.”

The fun is proving to have positive results, too, as Oxford is off to a 9-2-1 start.

For more information on the OHS hockey team, please visit