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Icers have strong work ethic, quality veterans

Back Row: (from left) Matt Reid, Nick Hocker, Tim Perks, Dean Couwlier, Montana Sampson. Middle Row: (from left) Connor Novack, Chad Wicker, Nolan Chapman, Austin Kurkowski, Brennen Orr, Tim Dutzy, Anthony Boreo, Cody Wright, Joey Bonino. Front Row (from left) Coach Dave Hague, Alex Schlueter, Kevin Dutzy, Stephan Fritz, Patric Hanson, Oscar Alexanderson, Jon Buday, Garrett Kovacic, Cody Ruch, Coach Rick Ignagni. (click for larger version)
December 01, 2010 - Youth is not going to be an excuse this season on the ice for the varsity hockey team as they prepare for the upcoming season.

"We're a very young group, but (we) have a strong work ethic and quality returning veterans," said hockey coach Dave Hague.

Transitioning from the Flint Metro League to the Oakland Activities Association, the hockey squad brings aboard 10 new players, including two freshman. However, Hague feels confident that every one of them will be able to contribute this season.

This season the Wildcats will do battle with OAA white division foes Berkley, Bloomfield United, West Bloomfield, Avondale, Troy and Royal Oak.

Like previous year's in the FML, the Wildcats will play each team twice, once at home and once on the road.

While switching divisions will be a challenge, Hague is comfortable with the mix of experience and youth he has, so expectations have not changed.

"Teams can change a lot every season, but most importantly, we feel comfortable with our team," Hague said. "We had a good year in the FML last season and we expect our boys to be ready for the OAA this season."

Leading the way for the Wildcats will be senior captain Cody Ruch, who has been with the program since he was a sophomore.

"He wears that name proudly every day," Hague said.

In addition to Ruch, three of the four seniors are returning -- Matt Reid (fourth season), Tim Perks (fourth season) and Tim Dutzy (third season). Senior Patric Hanson, one of the team's goalies, is playing hockey for the first time as a Wildcat this season.

Hanson and sophomore goalie Oscar Alexandersson will get help from a defensive unit that is returning everyone from last year's team.

Even though the team is young, the sophomores on the team received a lot of playing time last year as freshman.

"This young group of guys are generating valuable experience and we're seeing them mature at a very young age," Hague added.

The season got started with a 7-3 win over West Bloomfield on Saturday, Nov. 20.

Alexandersson made 32 saves on 35 shots, and Oxford got two goals from Nick Hocker and Nolan Chapman, while Perks, Reid and Brennen Orr each had a goal for the Wildcats.

Dean Couwlier had three assists and Perks and Chad Wicker each contributed two assists.

The Wildcats couldn't find the back of the net against old foe Swartz Creek, who shut out Oxford 5-0 on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

Oxford outshot the Dragons 38-26, which didn't matter to Hague.

"Shots are one thing, but we need to compete at both ends of the ice, which we didn't do," he said. "We had a few defensive breakdowns and just never really got going."

Oxford takes on Midland Dow at home on Wednesday, Dec. 1 before heading to Ontario, Canada for a two games on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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