WAUSAU – Cale Bowman probably won’t lead the Wisconsin Valley Conference in highlight-worthy goals this season.
The Wausau West forward can definitely put the puck in the net, but a lot of scoring chances comes off the work he has done in battling opponents for the puck in the corners, along the boards on in front of the net.
Some might classify him as a “grinder”-type player, but West coach Brian Brandt Jr. simply says he is an “igniter” for the Warriors. He had 21 goals and 34 points last season as West reached the WIAA state championship game.
“Cale provides a lot of energy for us. He is our spark,” Brandt Jr. said. “There was a time last year when we didn’t have him (due to an upper body injury) and we didn’t have that same energy. He provides that spark as well as leadership (on the ice).”
Bowman, who was a second-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference selection last year, is a co-captain along with Nick Techel for a West team that is 4-0-1 and faces Mosinee on Thursday in a Marathon Cup semifinal matchup.
Bowman said his leadership style was shaped in part by some of the former West captains.
“I think about my sophomore year when Zach Peterson was here. He was in my home room and talked to me all the time,” Bowman said. “He was a kid who was 5-(foot)-5 and worked so hard and was so good. He was one of those guys who was easy to be around and everyone liked him. Then last year we had a really good group of guys, not just the captains Sheldon Oja and Adam Parsells and Sam Radenz, but our entire senior class. They really opened my eyes and pushed me in the direction of being a leader.”
Talk about getting off to a strong start to the season, having not lost in the five games so far against some pretty solid teams for the most part: We had to face some tough teams with Eau Claire (Memorial) and Notre Dame and that’s always a good test. We play Eau Claire again later in the season so it will be good then to see how we have progressed. It’s always good to start with some wins because it gets your season rolling. We have some young guys step up (early), which is good because we know we can count on them later in the year.
This team has really been putting shots on net as well. Against Marshfield you had 66 shots and I think for the season you are averaging around 30. Talk about the way the offense is controlling the puck: Our mentality is just get the puck to the net and if you have to get a greasy (goal), it counts just as much as a sniper one. It’s just get pucks to the net and outwork teams low. In the Marshfield game, we just kept throwing everything that we could. (Teams) aren’t always going to give you an easy, pretty play, so you’ve got to make the hard ones.
Talk about the development of the forwards. It was a pretty young group last year. What is the biggest difference you notice this season? The maturity level. We had a lot of sophomores playing last year in that championship game. That was a big growing experience for them to see that on the big stages, ‘This is how it’s going to be and this is going to be the pace.’ They got a nice taste of being on that state team and making that (postseason) run.
You mentioned the state tournament. Have you watched the championship game loss at all? Yeah, three or four times. I’ve said it before, but it’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s a rough one to watch It doesn’t sit well, and so it’s like, ‘Let’s get back and win it this time. Let’s do the things that we didn’t do last year.’
West returns 13 letterwinners from last year and once again the expectations are high. Talk about the season outlook: One thing our coaches always say is, ‘You get what you put in.’ Our mentality has always been to be the hardest-working team and (doing) the little things will make the big picture easier to achieve.
It’s the Marathon Cup this week and West has dominated it recently. What does it mean to continue that trend this week?: It’s that one, and the Kuehlman Cup. Both are nice things to win. We might be expected to win, but we see it as we have to go out and work hard. We have tough teams in our county and they are all going to come to play as hard as they can and give everything that they’ve got.
School: Wausau West
Family:Mother, Lori; father, Clint; brother, Clint; sister, Kyrie.
Favorite subject: Biology
Favorite opponent to play: In the conference, it’s SPASH and Rapids. Just fun games and usually nail-biters.
Favorite NHL player: Pavel Datsyuk
Favorite NHL team: I’m a fan of guys from a lot of different teams, but if I have to narrow it down to one, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks. My dad grew up in Chicago so that kind of rubbed off on me a little bit.
Favorite movie: “Miracle.” It’s classic. I can watch it any day at any time and it’s still as good as the first time I watched it.
Most unique or ‘different’ teammate: I think I’m probably that one. I’m kind of unorthodox in some of the things I do or say. If I have to pick a teammate, I have to go with some fellow seniors – either Nate Newman or Rian Spooner. We even have kind of have our own language and yell out random words. But we understand each other.