This article was written by Lee Remmel in 1957 and is courtesy of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
When his two oldest sons were five or six years old, Robert C. Tochterman Sr. bought each of them a pair of skates and a hockey stick. This obscure incident nearly 18 years ago caused a ripple only in the Tochterman’s immediate neighborhood, but it initiated a chain of circumstances that was to produce a brother combination believed to be unique in America’s organized hockey.
For today, five Tochterman brothers, the largest number on any team in the nation so far as is known, form the foundation of the Green Bay Hornets, this community’s representatives in the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey League.
And happily, barring interruptions for military service, this rare combination could remain intact for some time to come. George, 25 and Bob, 23, are the oldest and both figure to play indefinitely. Of the others goalie Tom is just 21, Jim 19, and Bill, in his first Hornet season, the youngest at 16.
A Sixth Brother
This is not likely to be the end either. There is a possibility a sixth brother will enlarge the family’s contribution before too many years have passed, Tom explained, reporting, “We have another hockey player coming up. Our youngest brother, Matt, is eight and he’s been playing since he was three and a half.
“He should be pretty good, too,” he added with a smile of fraternal pride. “He’s loaded with all the equipment we’ve handed down to him.”
Hockey, it develops, is a family affair at the Tochtermans in the fullest sense of the word. “Dad’s right there at every game and mother, too,” Tom was nothing loath to report. “She never misses a game; never misses a game on TV either.”
Her interest doesn’t end here, he added with a chuckle. “She comes into the warming shack at the rink whenever we play to check on our injuries,” Tom grinned. “She always wants to see how many stiches we need.
Mother On Ice
“In one game, Bob got knocked out; he got a cut on his ear, so mother jumped over the boards and went out on the ice to see how he was,” he said smiling indulgently at the memory. “If you get cut during a game and she doesn’t get on the ice to see you,” he went on, “she’s the first to meet you when you come off the ice.”
As indicated earlier, this story properly begins with the boys’ father. “We’re originally from DePere,” Tom revealed, “and Dad used to play shinny behind St. Norbert College on the Fox River; they didn’t have organized hockey then.
“When George and Bob were only five or six,” he went on, “Dad bought each of them a pair of skates and a hockey stick and that was the beginning. By the time all of us were seven or eight, we were playing shinny with the kids in the neighborhood at Fort Howard Park.
“Later on Don Brueckner, a neighbor of ours who once had a tryout with the Chicago Blackhawks, started us with the Hornets,” Tom recalled beginning with George and Bob.
Rigged Up Cage
“Don used to pass to them and show them pointers about the game,” Tom added. “Then when I got a little older, he said he wanted to make a goalie of me. He rigged a cage in his garage in the summer and laid a cardboard floor so the puck would slide easily. Then he worked with me three times a week.”
This early interest on the part of Brueckner, “who never comes to a game because he can’t stand not being in there,” and the senior Tochterman has paid handsome dividends.
Bob, one of the state league’s leading scorers this season, led the circuit in scoring two years and also won a league scoring championship while playing a year of semi-pro hockey with Boeing Aircraft at Wichita before he entered the service.
And, Tom, still to reach his peak, is not only recognized as one of the premier goalies in the league but came close to landing a berth on the 1956 US Olympic team. Tom was rated the number two goalie at the Olympic tryouts in Minneapolis, but financial difficulties forced him to drop out.
Total of 26 Years
George, the oldest, also has been a consistent performer for the Hornets, and though they both are still in their teens, Jim and Bill have made significant contributions to the cause this season. The combination, that boasts 26 years in organized hockey, may be broken up temporarily as both Jim and Tom are expected to enter military service before the year is out, But, they’ll be back.
This article, written by award winning sports writer, Lee Remmel, appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 1957. A changing hockey landscape in the late 1950s shortened the length of time the five Tochterman brothers skated together for the Hornets.
With the building of the Brown County Arena, the Green Bay Bobcats replaced the Hornets as the premier men’s hockey program in town. The Bobcats, a semi-pro team, recruited players from all over the country. After a year of military service, goalie Tom Tochterman played for the Bobcats during the 1958–59 season.
The Hornets became a 20 and under team and they were led by Matt Tochterman, the sixth hockey-playing Tochterman brother. Matt went on the letter three seasons for the University of Wisconsin in the late 1960s.
The other Tochterman brothers continued their hockey involvement in the Green Bay area. This editor plans to interview Bob Tochterman for a later entry on the website.