Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Muskegon's Schulze decides on Badgers

It is safe to assume that Muskegon Lumberjacks defenseman Kevin Schulze had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday, the White Bear Lake, Minn., native made his verbal commitment to play college hockey at the University of Wisconsin beginning in fall 2012.

“It feels great,” Schulze said. “It’s a load off my shoulders to know where I’m going to college. I’ve always loved watching Wisconsin hockey, and when I visited Madison, I loved everything about my visit.”

It was not an easy decision for the 5-foot-9, 155-pound blueliner, who weighed the Badgers’ program against that of another powerhouse – the University of Maine.

“I must have talked with my mom and dad for an hour and a half the night before,” Schulze said. “In the end, I just followed my heart.”

Jacks head coach and general manager Kevin Patrick spent five years behind the Badgers’ bench as an assistant to head coach Mike Eaves. In Patrick’s first year at Wisconsin, he and Eaves directed the Badgers to a national title in 2006.

Eaves got his first opportunity to watch Schulze in person during the Jacks’ tryout camp in mid-June.

“Tryout camp definitely played a factor in it,” Patrick said. “Coach Eaves was here specifically to watch Kevin, and for him to be able to see Kevin’s game with his own eyes played a big factor. It’s a great opportunity for Kevin. I have the highest respect for Coach Eaves and his ability to develop players.”

Schulze echoes the same admiration for Eaves.

“He’s done it all – played in the NHL, coached in the NHL and on the college level – so it’s great to have that information,” Schulze said.

During his rookie season in the United States Hockey League, Schulze will heavily rely on Patrick to have him up to speed on Wisconsin hockey long before his arrival in Madison.

“While I was making my decision, I talked with Coach Patrick a lot,” Schulze said. “I’ll rely on him a lot for information on not just the coaches, but everything about the program.”

Schulze has enormous upside, and Patrick is proud that the Jacks will be able to help him develop for not just the college game, but also an outstanding professional career beyond that both on and off the ice.

The Jacks’ 24-man training camp roster now boasts 15 commitments to Division I universities.

“We’re very proud of our commitments. That’s the business we’re in – helping our players reach their full potential,” Patrick said. “They’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand. What they do now here in Muskegon will determine their success in the future.”

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