February 01, 2012 - 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."
Where are they now?
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 www.OxfordHockey.com.