The Bedford (Mich.) Kicking Mules hockey team has had an Oregon flavor for several years.
Oregon native and 1984 Cardinal Stritch grad Randy Menchaca has been the team's head coach for the past five years. One of his assistants, Troy Brummett, has been on the staff for more than three years.
Brummett, 26, the older brother of Stritch senior standout golfer Torey Brummett, is a 2001 Clay graduate. He attended Cardinal Stritch his sophomore and junior year.
Menchaca and Brummett brought plenty of hockey experience with them to Bedford, which competes in the Northwest Hockey Conference (NWC) in Ohio, and also in the Southeast Michigan Conference (SEC) in Michigan.
The Kicking Mules have won the NWC White Division the past four years.
Menchaca, 43, who lives in Oregon, was the head coach at Central Catholic for nine years and he also coached the Toledo Wolfpack, a Junior A hockey program, for one season.
Menchaca has known the Brummett family for many years, and he jumped at the chance to add Troy to his squad.
"What he brings to table is, for one, his playing experience," Menchaca said. "He has played at a pretty elite level. For us to have someone in the (program) like that with experience has been something for the kids to look up to. They know the coaching staff has coaching experience and we know what we're talking about."
Instead of playing for Clay's hockey program, Brummett decided to play travel hockey in Detroit. He played for Detroit Compuware for 12 years.
"I started out at Tam-O-Shanter (in Sylvania) and played for Team Toledo and made the decision to go up there and play," he said. "As soon as I graduated, I moved to Bozeman, Mont., and played in a junior league out there and then moved to Iowa for two years. I always told myself one of these days, hopefully, I can live in Bozeman. It went great. You can only play in these junior leagues until you're 21. After you turn 21, guys either go to college or try to go semi-pro.
"I tried to play semi-pro, when the (NHL) strike was going on. I started out with the Fort Wayne Comets and had a tryout and didn't make it there. I lived out of a suitcase. I was all over the place trying to play. After one season of just traveling and not getting much playing time, I decided to take up coaching. I enjoy doing that. I love being out there with the kids and watching them become better hockey players."
Brummett was still a part-time player when Menchaca asked him if he wanted to join the Bedford staff. Brummett recently finished his fourth season as a full-time assistant coach.
"I've known Randy my whole life," Brummett said. "When I played up in Detroit, I played Junior A and played a little bit of semi-pro. I didn't have the grades to go to college. This was someting I was interested in, to be with the kids. I asked Randy if I could help out. Playing semi-pro, when I would come home I would help out and I kind of weeded my way in."
Menchaca said Brummett was a little quiet around the players his first two years as an assistant.
"The more he's been around the program and these guys, he has more of a comfort level now," Menchaca said. "We've been like one big family. We've bonded with the players and they've bonded with us. What Troy brings with him more than anything is his playing experience and games he's played in.
"He's won a national championship as a player in Juniors and he's been a nice fit for our team. He was brought in for specific reasons, to help the kids learn systems a little bit better."
Brummett said Michigan seems to have a greater number of talented hockey players than Ohio.
"You get a lot more people trying to play hockey," he said. "There's more rinks up there and more kids who are playing hockey compared to down here. I don't know what it is. There's a rink every block up there and kids get a better opportunity to be on different levels."
Brummett admitted he now has the coaching bug.
"My plan is to keep coaching," he said. "I like coaching with Randy and I like where I'm at. I can't really complain about anything right now. Hopefully, I can stay with the Bedford program and keep working with Randy."