CULVER — Culver’s incredible hockey legacy is sometimes overlooked or even taken for granted, so frequent are state championship titles won (21 so far) and so many are the Culver Academies graduates who made their way to the NHL.
But one whole Culver family has had remarkable success on the ice, that of Academies advancement officer Kevin Kucera. Two of whose sons have garnered attention at the collegiate level for their hockey success, and his youngest son is already poised to follow in their footsteps.
The Plymouth-based Kuceras (who actually reside between Culver and Plymouth, on Myers Lake) graduated 6-foot-2 defenseman Connor Kucera from CMA in 2010, after which he enjoyed a successful freshmen season at Bowling Green State University, which plays in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association that includes Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, Ohio State and Notre Dame, among others. Connor overcame injuries to be the statistical team leader on defense at +2, and he was also second in points among the defensemen. The solid and steady performer had the key transition plays in Bowling Green’s big wins over number eight-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend in March, and the key defensive transition play in the home victory over number three Michigan back in February.
Coverage of the latter game by the local ABC affiliate called Kucera’s tie-retaining move late in the game a “perfect diving play.” The South Bend Tribune dedicated a feature story in its March 12, 2012 edition to Kucera’s exploits on the ice, in which he credited Culver Academies for helping him develop both leadership and time management skills in which to balance hockey and his studies.
Bowling Green went deep in the CCHA playoffs, beating Northern Michigan and Ferris State in the away series, only to lose to Michigan in a triple overtime game in the CCHA Final Four Series in Detroit. They subsequently received national rating votes at the end of the season. There are high expectations for BGSU — where Connor Kucera made the Business School’s Dean’s List for academic excellence — next season.
Connor’s younger brother and 2011 CMA grad Luke Kucera, a 6-foot-1 defenseman, played Junior A Hockey last season for the Springfield Pics in Springfield, Mass., and will play NCAA Division III hockey next season for the Lake Forest College Foresters in Lake Forest, Ill. He will attend Lake Forest College on a Presidential Scholarship and plans to study physics. He’s been a hockey instructor at the Culver Summer Schools and Camps this summer.
Fourteen-year old Corbin Kucera, also a defensemen, plays hockey for the bantam Irish Rovers AA out of South Bend. He’ll attend Plymouth High School next year and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. He plans to attend Culver Academies the following year, where he might just carry the Kucera hockey legacy onwards and upwards.