The weather is beginning to become frigid, cold and bare. Soon snow and ice will begin to envelop the city of Menomonie and all who inhabit it. This, of course, can only mean one thing: the start of hockey season. And right now, hockey is about the only thing on the mind of University of Wisconsin-Stout hockey player Kevin O’Donnell.
The UW-Stout hockey team, which first began in 1968, had its season opener Oct. 21 to start the 2011-2012 season. A forward on the team, O’Donnell has always been excited for the start of a season, ever since he began playing the sport at age 3.
“It’s always been fun,” said O’Donnell.
A native to Stoughton, Wis., O’Donnell is a current UW-Stout sophomore majoring in property management. He started on the UW-Stout team as a freshman for the 2010-2011 season. As a returning leading scorer, O’Donnell led all freshmen in scoring in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association with a finish of 25 points (10-15) and four game-winning goals.
Hockey has always been a passion for O’Donnell.
“[Hockey] has definitely opened up a lot of opportunities,” said O’Donnell. Before starting on the UW-Stout team, O’Donnell played two full years in junior hockey. “It was great to be able to travel around the United States with junior hockey. We went to Alaska, to Texas; normally, I wouldn’t have the chance to go to those places, especially for free.”
Friends are also a big part of O’Donnell’s passion for hockey. Most of his friends he met from playing hockey throughout his life, and the majority played on his high school team. Now he has met several new college friends from playing on the UW-Stout team.
“Definitely one of the best things about being on the Stout team is hanging out with the group of guys on the team,” said O’Donnell. “Everyone gets along well, and before the season we had a group campout up north.”
This year’s team has a majority of freshman and sophomores, who make up relatively 70 percent of the team. Returning to the team as UW-Stout upper classmen are only four seniors and eight juniors. With such a young team this season, O’Donnell is not worried.
“Our team this year is very talented,” said O’Donnell. “The new guys have definitely stepped in, and they really bring it. The returning guys are just as talented, and everyone gets along so well that it turns into good things on the ice.”
The team is already seven games into the season with stats of 4-3-0. O’Donnell has begun the season with full motivation and scored two goals, one within the final two minutes of the game against Marian University on Oct. 22. UW-Stout walked away with the win, 6-2. O’Donnell also had three assists on Oct. 29 when the Blue Devils faced the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, another game ending in a UW-Stout victory, 5-2.
O’Donnell plans on staying with UW-Stout hockey for the remainder of his college career. For the future, O’Donnell wants to pursue going pro. “I just want to be around it,” said O’Donnell. “Even if it’s coaching. I’ve coached youth groups when I was in juniors and high school and definitely could see myself coaching after college.”
Young, motivated and headstrong, O’Donnell has an innate passion for hockey and will continue to show that passion on the ice during this year’s hockey season.