The 2012-13 B5Q 'Meet the Freshmen' series kicks off today with White Bear Lake, MN native Kevin Schulze. The 5'10, 165 pound blueliner comes to the Wisconsin program fresh off a full season in the USHL.
Schulze (pronounced Shuhls) split the year between two clubs, playing the first part of the season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks before being traded to the Omaha Lancers where he finished the year. Schulze notched three goals and 29 points in 62 games between the two clubs.
Previous to his time in the USHL, Schulze played high school hockey for private school powerhouse Hill-Murray in the twin-cities. Schulze captained the Pioneers his senior season, recording 34 points in 28 games in the process. During his junior season, Schulze helped lead Hill-Murray to the state tournament.
In an interview last fall, Schulze told B5Q how special that moment was for him as a player.
"It was amazing, growing up watching the state tournament on TV that's what I dreamed of and playing in it was great," Schulze said. "It was almost surreal playing in front of so many people in the biggest game on my life."
Despite playing at a big Minnesota high school, Schulze flew a bit under the radar due to his lack of height. That didn't scare away the Badger coaching staff, who spent plenty of time evaluating his game.
While assistant coaches do much of the work on the recruiting trail, Badger head coach Mike Eaves went to see Schulze with his own two eyes before making Schulze a scholarship.
Schulze had some other options, but decided that Madison was the place he wanted to spend the next four years of his life.
"I had been talking with a couple other schools throughout the last couple of months, but after visiting Madison and talking with the coaches there I knew that Wisconsin was the perfect fit for me," Schulze noted. "Not only hockey wise but academically as well."
Schulze is known as an offensive-defenseman who is an incredible skater. The coaching staff is hoping that his skating will ease his transition into the college game quickly.
After signing his letter of intent with Wisconsin, Eaves talked a little bit about what he sees in his young blue-liner.
"Kevin is a real smooth skating young defenseman. He sees the ice very well and can make a really good pass. For his size, he plays very aggressively and very well away from the puck," Eaves said.
When asked to assess his own game, Schulze seemed to echo what Eaves had to say.
"I would say that I am a play-making defenseman, I like to use my skating ability and my vision of the ice to make plays happen and set up my teammates."
With four returning defensemen, it's going to be an every night battle for the final two spots on the back end of the Badger blue-line. Along with fellow freshman Eddie Wittchow and upperclassmen Chase Drake and Gavin Hartzog looking to crack the lineup, Schulze is going to have to earn his playing time day-by-day.
Schulze is probably one of the top skating players on the entire roster, and that is going to give him the edge if he can handle the game emotionally. Expect to see a rotation that includes Schulze, at least to start the season. My the mid-point of the year, I would be surprised if Schulze isn't an every night player for the Badgers.
The Kevin Schulze File
- Last Team: Omaha Lancers (USHL)
- Hometown: White Bear Lake, Minnesota
- Size: 5'10, 165
- Hand: Left
- Last seasons statistics: 3 goals, 26 assists, 29 points in 62 games.
- Twitter account: @Kevin_Schulze28
- Jersey number: 28
- 2012-13 Prediction: As I mentioned Kevin is going to be in a battle for playing time along with a few other defensemen. In the end I think Kevin and fellow freshman Eddie Wittchow are going to end up getting the most playing time out of that group. I'd expect a solid two-way game, with a little offense as well. 29 games, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points.
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