To say that Bill Krueger has taken the road least traveled to college could be the understatement of the year.
He came to El Paso in late January ’07 as an 18 year old defenseman from Dubuque (CSHL) who was 3 games into serving perhaps the longest suspension in USA Junior Hockey history (17 games).
“When we made the trade for Bill, the WSHL Commissioner Ron White called me, “do you realize who you just traded for? do you understand he has to serve all 17 games of that suspension before he can play?” said Rhino Coach Cory Herman.
“We knew it was a big chance, but Trevor (Converse) knew about him, and some of our players had played with and against him.
They all had nothing but good things to say plus, we needed another defenseman going into playoffs.”
Arriving in El Paso, Bill quietly sat out the rest of the suspension, and finished, hardly drawing a penalty for the rest of the season.
“Bill is a smart kid, he’s a pot stirrer, but he knew he had to walk real softly because everyone was watching” said Herman.
Finally out from under the dark cloud of the previous year’s suspension Bill was able to play with a new freedom.
“Coach (Herman) keeps it pretty old school, as long as you’re on time, practice hard, and do your job on the ice he gives you plenty of rope”.
“Bill is exactly the same type of player I was, he loves to mix it up and get under people’s skin, he’s as good at it as anyone I’ve ever seen, he’s smart and knows how to walk the line, and rarely takes a bad penalty” said Herman.
With his first full season as a Rhino, Bill also saw a change in position.
“I (Herman) was looking for someone to play with Willy (Marcus Wilhite), and Nick (Gorup), upon meeting with them they asked for Billy.
“During practices Bill showed me he had great hands around the net, was great in the corners, and always willing to pay the price in front of the net” said Herman.
“We had a meeting with coach, Nick and me asked to play with Bill, we thought he’d work well with us” –Marcus Wilhite.
“We went through 4 or 5 different guys, Bill was really the missing piece for our line, once he started playing with us we really took off” -Nick Gorup.
Take off they did, even in his short time playing forward Bill would lead the team and ultimately finish his career as the all time power play goal scorer in Rhinos history.
That season would prove to be a highlight for Krueger as that Rhinos team went on to become WSHL Thorne Cup Champions.
“Winning that ring is definitely the best moment in my hockey career, I’ll probably name my first 3 kids Thorne, Cup, and Champ”.
No surprises this year.
Krueger started the season as a first line forward along with his previous season’s line mate, Gorup.
Bill would go on to put up his best offensive season in Junior with 65 points (27g 38a) and 214 PIMs in 50 regular season games, and he would also wear the “A” on his chest for the second year.
“El Paso was a great decision, 3 Midwest titles, 1 league championship, 3 trips to nationals, and I had my own pillar*”.
Coach (Herman) is definitely one of the best coaches I’ve had in my career, he expects you to strap up, play well, and win games.
He figured me out as a puzzle piece, and it really changed everything for me”.
After months of ignoring college’s attempts to contact him, Bill was set on going back to Wisconsin to be a union welder.
“Coach told me to think about college and my options during my drive home.
After thinking about it for 1800 miles I realized I didn’t want to hang ‘em up just yet, so I called coach Herman, and coach Ted Russell called me up shortly after that.”
Bill now moves on to Lebanon Valley College to play with another former Rhino star Marcus Wilhite.
“I’m gonna do whatever I can to help the team win games and put people in the seats, it’ll also be great playing with Willy again.”
“Lebanon Valley College (ECAC WEST) is excited to land the second El Paso Rhino in two years. Bill will be coming to LVC with the opportunity to be an impact player. He is exactly the type of player I was looking for, a player that can play both positions and is not afraid to get his nose dirty (214 PIMs).
I will be looking to Bill to challenge older players for ice time. He has played junior for a long time and has played against numerous players in the ECAC West. Coming from a Junior Program like El Paso I know they’re are quality people as well as quality hockey players.”– Ted Russell Head Coach Lebanon Valley College
Parting shots from his ex-linemates…
“If Bill’s not mucking it up in the corner scoring pp goals he’ll probably start a southern rock band and sing lead vocals” – Nick Gorup (MSOE signee)
“He smells” –Marcus Wilhite (LVC ’12)
“It’s safe to say that there will never be another Bill Krueger” – Cory Herman
*The “pillar” is a 8’ X 4’ advertisement on a structural pillar in front of the arena.