Lower Burrell native Brandon Scholze now knows you can’t always chase your hockey dream from home. That’s why Scholze, 18, has signed a contract to play with the Wooster (Ohio) Oilers in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League.
“I went to a prospect camp in Indiana, and there were a bunch of scouts there,” said Scholze, who leaves for Wooster on Aug. 17. “The scout for Wooster said he watched me with the Steel City Ice Renegades, and he offered me a contract.”
Last season, Scholze played for the Renegades’ (formerly the Junior Penguins) under-18 triple-A team and for Burrell High School. Normally a center, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Scholze said he can play any position if it gets him on the ice.
“I like to think I’m a good two-way center,” he said. “I don’t score a lot, but I can put the puck in the net when I need to. I can also play both wings and defense if I have to.
“The goal right now is to get a scholarship off of it. I’d obviously like to end up with a Division I school, but Division III is OK, too. I’ll take whatever I can get.”
If history is any indicator of the future, Scholze’s ability to continue his career in college looks promising. The MJHL considers itself a “college preparatory league.” According to the league, more than 25 former players have played at Division I schools. More than 400 MJHL alumni have played for Division III schools.
Playing in the NHL or another professional league after college isn’t something Scholze has thought too much about recently.
“Everyone, when they’re a little kid, dreams of being in the NHL,” he said. “As I started getting older, I started to realize what my options were. “I’m just going to see what happens.”
Scholze will enroll in online school and finish his senior year at Burrell when the team’s season ends in the spring.
He admits to being a little nervous about moving away from home but said his family has been supportive.
“My mom was a college gymnast, and she told me I should go,” he said. “She said she never got to compete out of state, and it’s a good opportunity. I’m excited.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.