Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wildcats continue to win on and off the ice

OXFORD, MI – These days, the Oxford High School varsity hockey team is not only winning on the ice, but winning in a significant way off the ice as well.

After all, the feeling of beating the opposition only lasts until the next game, while making strides in the community can last a lifetime.

This season, Wildcat players have put in time at Oxford Elementary School reading to children, at the Waterstone Senior Village to interact with the residents and just this week, welcomed Oxford special education students to practice at the Troy Sports Center (pictured above) as part of a “learn to skate” event where the students also rode the team bus to and from practice.

“I think it’s very important for athletes to be role models because a lot of people are watching and looking up to them, so setting a good example is an important key to being a great athlete,” said Oxford junior forward Stephan Fritz.

“The kids who look up to us see us doing good things tend to aspire to also do good things,” added junior forward Jimmy Wallington. “We try to have a positive attitude on everything and just show how fun it is to be representing our school on the ice.”

Sophomore forward Luke Novack said going to the elementary school was fun and rewarding.

“It was cool because when we walked into the classroom, all the kids went crazy,” said Novack. “It was a lot of fun to play math games with them, even though I lost every time. Going to the school was a great experience and if asked, I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Spending time with senior citizens over the holidays had the same type of goodwill feeling.

“It was a great time going to the senior home with the boys,” Fritz said. “It's always nice to get out into the community and know you're making a difference in some people’s lives that don't always get to experience something like that. You can tell they enjoy the company and its just fun to spend some time with the residents and hear their stories.”

This past Monday, the special education kids got to experience firsthand what it takes to not only be a hockey player, but all the preparation it takes just to skate at practice.

“It was a really great experience, I really enjoyed it and I think everyone involved did, too,” said OHS junior defenseman Brennen Orr. “I felt really good about myself helping them learn how to skate.”

“I had a great time teaching those kids how to skate,” sophomore forward Cody Wright said. “It was a big deal for them and we will never know how much that impacted their lives. I was just glad to do it.”

After beating Lapeer United 4-2 last night at home during Senior Night, the Wildcats (13-6-2 overall, 2-4-1 OAA Red) are now looking ahead to the Red Division playoffs that start Friday night against Farmington at 8:45 p.m. at the Onyx in Rochester.

Obviously, the team has its goals set extremely high.

“We have a shot to win the league after moving up a second year in a row and that's really exciting to the team, especially since many people don't believe we will be able to pull it off again,” said Fritz. “We just have to take it one step at a time and work harder than ever. Playoffs this year are looking good and we have a strong, deep team that's looking to go far.

“With the work we've put in, it's not unrealistic that we'll be at states when that whole thing gets started.”

“The Red playoffs are very important to our team, especially the seniors,” Novack said. “A lot of teams in the league think that we won’t even be a .contender, which makes us want to win it that much more. We are ready to compete and bring back some hardware for the school.”

Other first-round matchups have Clarkston taking on Stoney Creek, Farmington Hills Unified battling Rochester United and Lake Orion tangling with Birmingham Unified.

The Red Division semi-finals go Saturday at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena with championship games taking place on Feb. 25 at the Birmingham Ice Arena.

Click here to view the playoff bracket for the Red Division.

For more information on the Oxford High School varsity hockey team, please visit

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Schlueter playing to potential, eyeing improvement

OXFORD, MI – What a difference a year makes.

Last season, Alex Schlueter didn’t have the type of year he wanted to have as a freshman on the Oxford High School hockey team. He’ll be the first one to admit that.

This year, though, is a different story as the steady defenseman has “shot out of a cannon,” according to OHS head coach Dave Hague.

“Alex is a completely different player this season,” Hague said. “He was a little raw last season as most freshmen tend to be, but this year when I watch him, it’s a whole new player. Alex put in the work to be a better player and it has showed from day one of this season.”

“I would have to admit that I am very happy with my season so far,” said Schlueter matter-of-factly. “I feel that I have played to my full potential nearly every time I step out on the ice. This differs from last year because I just couldn’t seem to unlock my full potential. The atmosphere was new and I think my nerves greatly hindered my abilities.

“I credit my improvement strictly to hard work. Hard work is the key to unlocking all your abilities on and off the ice. The best way for me to keep improving is to continue to listen to my coaches, work hard and compete every shift, every practice, and every workout. It’s as simple as that.”

Playing mostly on a blue line pairing with senior Dean Couwlier, Schlueter said he’s had instant chemistry, crucial to a defense pair clicking.

“I feel Dean makes it so easy to play with him,” said Schlueter. “We set up simple and effective plays that we run, without flaw, in games.”

On a team level, Schlueter said there is no better situation that playing for the Wildcats and continuing the tradition that has become successful Oxford hockey.

“We are nothing short of a family,” said Schlueter. “We spend virtually every day with each other and we wouldn't have it any other way. It does not surprise me when I hear about our players turning down these higher level teams to stay here and play for Oxford. I know I would certainly have trouble leaving.

“I plan on staying as long as possible. I honestly think that if I did take an offer somewhere else that I would eventually end up back on the Oxford squad. I've played hockey since I was little and I have never played on a team quite like Oxford. There's something about it that just grasps you and holds you in.”

Schlueter also has a maturity level about him that is both ambitious and realistic.

Take, for example, his goals in hockey. He wants to continue to improve defensively to where he can play in power-play situations and down the road, he has NHL aspirations, along with going to college.

“Though I feel that most statistics do not accurately display a player’s ability and are not nearly as important as some players make them out to be, I think that plus-minus is a very important stat to keep track of,” said Schlueter. “My current plus-minus is not bad at all, but another ongoing short-term goal of mine is to improve my plus-minus.

“My long-term hockey goals are the same since I started playing hockey in the fourth grade – to play in the NHL.”

While the NHL is a dream only few can realize, it’s a dream worth having, added Schlueter. After all, if he was “raw” last season and superb this season, who knows what the future holds?


The OAA league Red Division seeding and playoff assignments have been determined. First-round playoff action gets underway next Friday (Feb. 17) at the Onyx in Rochester.

Oxford will face Farmington at 8:45 p.m.

Other first-round matchups have Clarkston taking on Stoney Creek, Farmington Hills Unified battling Rochester United and Lake Orion tangling with Birmingham Unified.

The Red Division semi-finals go the following day at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena with championship games taking place on Feb. 25 at the Birmingham Ice Arena.

Click here to view the playoff bracket for the Red Division.

For more information on the Oxford High School varsity hockey team, please visit

Thursday, February 2, 2012

ESPN takes note of talented Chapman

OXFORD, MI – Nolan Chapman hasn’t been on SportsCenter, but he’s pretty close.

In the most recent issue of ESPN HS, a high school-themed version of ESPN The Magazine, the sports conglomerate ranks the top 24 high school hockey players in the state of Michigan.

Chapman is listed on the list’s Fourth Team. Not too shabby for a kid who sees himself as “the goofy and annoying kid on and off the ice and trying my best to be a captain on the ice.”

“Being featured in ESPN is one of the biggest privileges I've ever had,” said Chapman. “To me, this shows that our team has a bunch of kids with this capability and talent. Who knows if this will get me noticed by schools and juniors, but I guess we'll just wait and see.”

This season with the Wildcats, Chapman leads the team in scoring and is second in overall OAA scoring with 15 goals and 35 points in 17 games – better than two points per game.

“Nolan is a very talented player and his recognition from ESPN shows that Oxford can produce big-time talent,” said OHS head coach Dave Hague. “Nolan has been a kid who’s been here for three seasons and has taken huge strides each year. Most of the guys on that ESPN list have already committed to NCAA Division I teams or top-level USHL and NAHL programs. It will be exciting to see where Nolan lands next season."

Chapman said that while the ESPN mention is an individual accolade, he knows he couldn’t have done it alone.

“The hockey program here at Oxford has come from the bottom to one of the most premier teams in the state,” said Chapman. “I feel like being on the team has improved my on-ice skill and I feel like our coaches are one of the main reasons I've had this success playing hockey. Hockey has always been one of my main focuses in life and I'd love to continue playing until I can't anymore.”

Playing Lake Orion in December was a highlight for Chapman and he’s hoping for more positives as the regular season hits the home stretch.

”In that Lake Orion game, it seemed like the whole city was watching us,” Chapman said. “That right there should tell you how far we’ve come as a program.”

ESPN certainly took notice.


Forward Alex Hoffman, a 2008 OHS graduate, has moved on to play for the Division I ACHA team at Oakland University.

Hoffman currently has 13 goals (tied for second on the Grizzlies) and 21 points in 29 games.

After graduating from Oxford, Hoffman spent a season in the Eastern Junior Hockey League with the Hampton Roads Jr. Admirals and is now a junior at OU.

Hoffman also played briefly at NCAA Division III Nichols College in Dudley, Mass.

For more information on the Oxford High School varsity hockey program, please visit