By Matt Mackinder
Special to the Leader
Will Poolton is taking the next step in his hockey career, recently signing to play junior hockey with the United States Premier Hockey League’s (USPHL) Toledo Cherokee.
The 19-year-old Oxford native is joining a team that has emerged as a top USPHL team in recent years and a regular at the USPHL National Championships.
“I was scouted the past couple years by (Toledo assistant coach and director of player personnel) Coach (Nic) Saenz and his staff while I played for HoneyBaked 16U AAA and Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 18U AAA,” Poolton said. “Coach Saenz reached out and we made it happen. It’s very nice to play for a team that is a contender for a national championship year after year. It shows the amount of work and sacrifice each member of the team and staff is willing to go through for each other. Shows how much they put into this organization and how much it means to them to be the best. Day after day, month after month, year after year, everyone shows up and gives 110 percent.”
Toledo head coach and general manager Kenny Miller is excited to add Poolton to his group of forwards this season.
“Will is a kid that works hard and has a motor that doesn’t stop,” said Miller. “We really like the way he gets after it every shift, and our staff thinks he can come in and be a difference maker for us. You can tell by the way he approaches the game that he comes from a hockey family and has been raised by a coach.”
Poolton will move to the Toledo area and live with a host family, or a “billet” in hockey terms, for the season. He says he plans to still visit his family in Oxford over the course of the season that starts later this month and wraps in March. Two USPHL teams are based in Michigan with the Metro Jets (Mount Clemens), Toledo’s biggest rival, and the Motor City Gamblers (Fraser).
Playing the game of hockey is more than a sport, said Poolton.
“I first started playing house league at the Rochester Onyx,” Poolton remembered. “I have kept at it and just really enjoy not only playing the game but the people I meet and brothers I gain along the way. I play for a team of 20-plus guys who all share the same goal and all want the best for one other. Plus, you always are getting better and there is always stuff to improve on, so it keeps you working.”
Over the years, in addition to HoneyBaked and the Jr. Grizzlies, Poolton also played AAA for Belle Tire and Victory Honda, AA for the Ice Hawks. He began his hockey career with the Orchard Lake Pirates.
Back home, Poolton has lived in Oxford for 15 years and went all through Oxford Community Schools, graduating from Oxford High School in 2022. His family includes his parents, Heidi and John, brothers Matt (seventh grade, Oxford Middle School), Nolan (sophomore, Oxford High School), and Jay, (Oakland Community College, 2020 Oxford graduate) and the family dog Wendel.
“I really enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and people in the community,” Poolton said.
Now with his hockey season set, Poolton is looking ahead to his goals, which he said include winning a championship and making it to college with a scholarship.
By Matt Mackinder