EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- In April, Eau Claire North’s Sam Stange was selected in the United States Hockey League draft as a sophomore, but he came back this season to play for the Huskies. There’s good reason for Stange getting drafted: the start to his junior campaign lets you in on that. Stange is our Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week. SportScene 13’s Neil Hebert has more.
If you attend any North hockey games this season, you’ll see this a lot: Sam Stange ‘high-fiving’ his teammates after scoring a goal.
Stange said, “I can create plays using my speed,” – it’s that breakaway speed and his ability to beat goalies game in and game out that makes him almost uncontainable for opponents.
You can add smooth and prolific to Stange’s repertoire, too: 8 goals and 6 assists in just 3 games into his junior season. If he can sustain numbers like that, he’ll likely be high on hockey prospects’ radars.
“I’ve got a ways to go,” Stange said. “Obviously, it’s a faster, physical game (at the next level), but I think if I keep working hard, I’ll be able to get there.”
And if he continues to do what he’s doing, both on and off the ice, that dream is attainable.
“He’s working out 4 days a week,” Ryan Parker, who’s in his 4th season leading the team, said. “He’s driven. He’s decided that he wants to be a hockey player. He wants to try to pursue that after high school. He’s taken that very seriously.”
The Huskies took down Eau Claire Memorial for the 1st time since 2006 last year. This year’s squad is smaller, but faster and is prepping for a solid showing in the Big Rivers Conference.
“The seniors last year left a great foundation for us to build off of and I think that’s the goal: have success in conference, then the playoffs,” Stange said.
Last year as a sophomore, Stange averaged just under 2 points per game, which are above average numbers. This season, that number is almost 5.
“It’s always easy to play with Sam,” Senior Center for the Huskies, Jeffrey Pippinger, said of his teammate. “He’s an outstanding hockey player. He’ll do great at the next level. He just makes it easy out there. Every game, you know he’ll produce, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Stange has games with 3 and 4 goals already. His knowledge of the game plays an integral part in his offensive success.
“He’s incredibly smart,” Parker said of Stange. “He understands the game. He understands how to anticipate. When he’s out there, he’s never not thinking of the game. He’s paying attention on the bench, on the ice; he’s 100% at all times.”
“His hockey IQ is above the roof,” Pippinger said.
It’s that IQ that won’t show up on the stat sheet. This goal, he used the goalie’s shin pad as a backboard to put it in the net. That’s not your average hockey play. You can be sure you’ll see many more like it this year and in years to come for this budding hockey star.