APPLETON – Hunter Schwehr wore No. 13 and he was bad luck all right.
In Schwehr’s case, he was bad luck for foes of the Fox Cities Stars.
Schwehr received heavy attention from opposing defenseman, but that didn’t stop the senior forward from putting up big numbers and leading the Stars to a strong season.
Schwehr was the leading scorer in the Appleton area with 72 points on 40 goals and 32 assists and was a Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association first-team all-state selection. He was also a finalist for the state’s player of the year.
For his multiple contributions, Schwehr is the all-area hockey player of the year.
“It (the defensive attention) was tough,” said Schwehr. “It really started this year and I had to learn how to deal with it. There were games where I’d have two guys on me at all times and I had to learn that I’m not going to get the goal or the points that game. I had to look for the open ice and open lanes for my teammates, guys like Noah Krueger and Seth Bishop.”
Troy Schwehr, the Stars’ head coach and Hunter’s father, felt that Hunter became more than just a scorer this season.
“Over the years I’ve seen him kind of seen him progress to where he wasn’t necessarily trying to rely just on his skills,” said Troy Schwehr. “I think this past year, whether it was a chip on his shoulder or what have you, he kind of transformed his game a little bit to where it wasn’t so much skill-based, but was focused on distributing the puck and making players around him better and not feeling like he had to do it himself.”
With Hunter leading the way, the Stars finished with a 16-7 overall record, their second-best record in program history. The Stars were a fourth-place 6-4 in the Badgerland Conference.
“It was really cool being a part of a team that can go down in the record books as having one of the better seasons in program history,” said Hunter Schwher. “I think we really found out who we were as a team this year.”
Schwehr was a four-year varsity letterman for the Stars, playing his entire high school hockey career with his father as his head coach.
“It was kind of a rollercoaster,” said Hunter with a laugh. “It had its awesome times, but there were times when it was like he wasn’t a coach and I wasn’t a player. It was father and son. But overall, we kind of put it aside and did our jobs. It was tough at times and other times it was the best thing in the world.”
Hunter has been playing the game practically his entire life, hitting the ice shortly after learning how to walk.
“I started skating when I was 2 and started playing actual hockey when I was like, 3-and-a-half with the Monster Mites,” said Hunter. “My dad got me started early.”
Schwehr, a senior at Xavier High School, plays the game year-round, but says that burnout has never been a problem.
“No, I never really get tired of it,” he said. “I take a couple days off after the high school season just to kind of digest that high school hockey is over, but that’s about it. You have dreams, so you have to chase them, and no days off.”
“I love hockey. It’s more than just a game to me. It’s a lifestyle. It’s taught me so many life lessons and I’ve been hooked on it for so long. I just love the pace of the game, the feeling of scoring a goal and the feeling of winning a game.”
But hockey is not all goals and victories. It’s a tough, physically demanding sport and players like Schwehr have to deal with injuries
“I’ve had my share of concussions,” Schwehr said. “I fractured a knee cap, taking a slap shot to the knee about a year ago. The fractured kneecap was pretty bad. I was sidelined for probably three months. They had to take like 90 milliliters of fluid out of the knee, so I missed some spring hockey and a lot of summer training.”
Despite his commitment to hockey, Schwehr isn’t a one-sport athlete. He was also an exceptional soccer player for the Hawks and a first-team all-Bay Conference selection last fall.
“If you are going to play hockey, soccer is definitely a sport that’s going to help your hockey game, because of the footwork,” said Schwehr. “Your spacing in soccer helps you with hockey along with the way you can slow a game down and develop a play. It improves your hockey IQ.”
Schwehr plans to play junior hockey next season, although he’s not exactly sure where that will be. Eventually he hopes to play at the Division I college level.
As far as his high school career goes, Schwehr admits that he’s going to miss prep hockey.
“I’m going to miss playing with and against all the kids I grew up with,” he said. “Guys on our team like Noah Kruger, my linemate, Chase Hunter and Jonathan Kwasny. And then there’s guys on other teams like Travis Treml and Matt Gruber, Connor Zilisch, Chris Beyer, Kieran Brosnan and Mitchell Lund. I’m good friends with all those guys. We’re rivals on the ice, but off the ice, we’re pretty tight. We can always count on each other.”
Tim Froberg: 920-993-7183, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @twfroberg
Family: Father, Troy; mom, Julie.
The numbers: A first-team member of the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association all-state team. Was a finalist for the WHCA player of the year. Was the Badgerland Conference player of the year and an all-conference first team choice. Led conference in scoring with 40 goals and had 32 assists for 72 points. Had an assist in his only playoff game.
Group/Artist: Chance the Rapper
TV show: Strange Things
Movie: Slap Shot. “Love that movie. It never gets old.”
Team: Washington Capitals
Player: Troy Oshie
Moment of the season: “When we won the Eveleth (Minnesota) tournament. One of the my dad’s dreams was to go there and play in a tournament. The (United States) Hockey Fall of Fame is there and it’s like THE hockey town. To win the championship there and beat the hometown team, which was really good, that was probably my favorite moment of the year.”
All-Area Boys Hockey team
Hunter Schwehr, Sr., F, Fox Cites: See profile.
Matt Gruber, Sr., F, Fox Cities: A first-team member of the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association all-state team. Was a finalist for the WHCA player of the year. Was a first-team selection on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Was second in Badgerland points (61) on 28 goals and 33 assists. Had three assists in the playoffs.
Alec Elkin, Jr., F, Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha: A first-team member of the WHCA all-state team. Was a first-team selection on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Was fifth in conference points (42) on 17 goals and 25 assists. Scored three goals in the playoffs and had three assists.
Travis Treml, Sr., D, Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha: A first-team member of the WHCA all-state team. Was a first-team choice on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Scored six goals and had 15 assists for 21 points. Had a goal and an assist in the playoffs.
Jack Kraus, Sr., D, Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha: Received honorable mention on the WHCA all-state team. Was a first-team selection on the all-Badgerland Conference first team. Scored 12 goals and had nine assists for 21 points, tying him with Treml for third on the Rockets. Scored two goals and had three assists in the playoffs.
Max Gutjahr, So., G, Fox Cities: Was a second-team choice on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Had a 16-7 record with a 1.93 goals against average, a saves percentage of 92.3 and three shutouts. Had a GAA of 6.19 and a saves percentage of .739 in the Stars’ lone playoff game.
Noah Krueger, Sr., F, Fox Cities: Received honorable mention on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Was third in conference points (45) on 24 goals and 21 assists. Had a goal in the Stars’ lone playoff game.
Connor Zilisch, Sr., F, Appleton United: Received honorable mention on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Was second on United in points (33) on 17 goals and 16 assists. Scored two goals in the playoffs and had three assists.
Erik Bargholtz, So., F, Appleton United: Received honorable mention on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Was third on United in points (32) on 14 goals and 18 assists. Scored a goal in the playoffs and had three assists.
Kieran Brosnan, Sr., D, Appleton United: Was a second-team selection on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Scored eight goals and had 10 assists for 18 points. Added a goal in the playoffs.
Jonathan Kwasny, Jr., D, Fox Cities: Received honorable mention on the WCHA all-state team and the all-Badgerland Conference team. Tied for third on the Stars in points (31) on seven goals and 24 assists. Had a goal in the Stars’ only playoff game.
Preston Long, Jr., G, Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha: Received honorable mention on the all-Badgerland Conference team. Had a 9-7 record with one shutout, a saves percentage of .90.4 and a goals-against average of 2.16. Played even better during the postseason when he went 2-1 with a .939 saves percentage and a 1.34 goals against average.
Drake Hiddemen, Sr., D, Waupaca; Max Menzies, Sr., F, Waupaca; Jack Menzies, So., F, Waupaca; Noah Hablewitz, Sr., F, Fox Cities; Tyler Hafeman, Sr., F, Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha; Dillon Fox, So., F, Fox Cities; Mitchell Lund, Sr., D, Appleton United; Chris Beyer, Sr., D, Appleton United; Cody Dias, So., F, Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha; Ethan Long, Fre., F, Neenah/Hortonville/Menasha; Greyson Maulick, Jr., F, Appleton United; Erik Horman, Jr., F, Appleton United; Cody Rasmussen, So., F, Waupaca; Hunter Smith, Sr., F, Waupaca.