Huron hockey team skating in the right direction trying to return program to better times

Success in sports is not always measured on a scoreboard. The Ann Arbor Huron hockey team is a great example that the number of goals you score or wins you secure isn’t the real measure of success.

A once powerful program, Huron was on the verge of not having enough players to field a team the past few seasons. Tony Whiren, athletic director and assistant principal at Huron High School, came up with a plan to increase numbers: form a co-op with Whitmore Lake and Milan.

“Our numbers are up this year with a newly formed co-op with Whitmore Lake and Milan,” Whiren wrote in a letter to friends and family of the hockey team, explaining the plan. “Many young players, but their efforts and desire will be second to none, on the ice representing Huron hockey. Huron hockey has a long-lasting history of excellence that will guide our younger players and our returning veterans throughout the season.”

Whiren’s letter can be found in the 2019-20 River Rat hockey program that is handed out at games.

Hockey players from Whitmore Lake, Milan, and Ann Arbor Huron high schools now play for one combined team, under Huron’s name. While the team has struggled on the ice this season, still searching for the elusive first win, Huron head coach Matt Winkelseth said that the character of his team is second to none.

“All the kids bring something different, something special to the team,” Winkelseth said. “They all love the game of hockey; they all want to play the game of hockey. They all want to compete. You put stuff like that together, a little bit of hard work and some elbow grease, and we can get things done.”

Take last Wednesday night’s game, for example. Even after falling behind Dexter 4-0 after the first period, the team continued to battle, and played some of its best hockey all season in the second period.

“After the first period, I think the guys realized that they were in this game and could compete. They went out and continued to battle. They’ve started to believe in themselves, and that’s what’s important,” Winkelseth said. “We want to keep building on the fundamentals, developing the stick skills and skating skills and things like that. I think once we do that, we’ll finally start to see some success on the ice.”

Winkelseth said that he strives to bring Huron’s program back to the forefront of Michigan high school hockey.

“I remember back when I was playing, in 1989 and 1990,” he said. “I remember back when the season started, coming out and playing Ann Arbor Huron. Those were some good quality teams and good games. Huron was a very well-respected, very well-known program. That’s the goal here, to get Huron back to what they used to be.”