With the 2019-20 season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Jr. Blues would like to give special attention to our age-out players, who will be continuing their hockey careers elsewhere next year.
Our “Saluting our ’99s” series continues with a young man who has been a presence at the Affton Ice Rink since before he could walk: Sean Hofstetter.
If there was a Jr. Blues royal family, the native of Columbia, Illinois would be a member of it. His grandfather, the late Frank Steckler, was Jr. Blues general manager for more than 20 years, and his uncle Kraig Steckler was a standout defenseman for the club. Sean played for Affton Americans or its sister AAA club, the AIC Prospects, from mini-mites all the way up to midgets, and when the time came to play junior hockey he jumped at the chance to play at what he called “his second home.”
Hofstetter cites his two years at the Jr. Blues as molding him into the future Concordia University Wisconsin talent he is now. “When I first came into the program, I was kind of lazy I guess. [Head coach Chris] Flaugher helped me basically make myself into the best I can be and to always keep working harder.”
Flaugher notes that “Sean is a young man who came in with one goal in mind: improve every day and make himself a better hockey player. He worked hard on and off the ice to maximize his talent and it showed. He’s a great example for what this program can achieve in a player, and his grandfather Frank would be proud of what Sean’s accomplished.”
The numbers reflect Hofstetter’s growth as a player: this year he almost doubled his goal-scoring total from 2018-19, leading the team in all offensive categories with 35 goals and 32 assists, good for 67 points. He was named to the Central Division team at the 2020 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament, where he recorded one goal and one assist in the three games played in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Sean cites last year’s Central Division Final sweep at Coulee Region as his favorite memory of his time with the Jr. Blues. “I remember before the 2nd period ended, I scored and made it 3-1. I just remember, back in the locker room everyone was so hyped up, confident we were gonna win that game and move on to Fraser Cup.” He knows that making the move to CUW and college hockey will be “a test….I gotta get a little bigger, but I’m excited for the opportunity,” and noted that he cannot wait to show off the skills he learned at Affton up in Wisconsin.
Next up in our “Saluting our ‘99s” series: Mason Kruger