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Ice stars, local bond
Swider, Voorhees reunite as Ice Bears stars, become best friends in Concord

Reuniting by chance as Knoxville Ice Bears after first meeting as talented youth hockey teammates in Nebraska, Kevin Swider and K.J. Voorhees are shining stars of hockey living in Concord.

While Voorhees uses his skills and knowledge to help young Farragut and Knox area youth develop skills as hockey director for Cool Sports, Home of the Icearium, Swider continues to pad his all-time Southern Professional Hockey League points record as a 34-year-old Ice Bears center.

Helping to lead the Ice Bears to consecutive SPHL league championships in 2007-08 and 2008-09 — and another with Voorhees in 2005-06 — Swider “grew up in Detroit.”

“I grew up in Seattle,” Voorhees said.

Now best friends, Voorhees and Swider first met in the mid-1990s as high school seniors playing with United States Hockey League Junior A, “a pre-college league that a majority of Division One hockey players play” based in Omaha, Voorhees said.

“He came in as a highly-touted player, so everyone knew of him,” added Voorhees about Swider, who went on to play college hockey at Ferris State (Mich.).

Voorhees was a right wing star at Colorado College (1996-2000), during which he played in an NCAA Division I “Frozen Four.”

After youth hockey, “I didn't see him for several years until I came to Knoxville,” Swider said. “He instantly became one of my best friends. We still hang out and keep in touch.”

They came back together by coincidence with the Ice Bears in 2002. “I had signed with Knoxville in the summer of ’02 ... and Kevin was looking for a team at that time,” Voorhees said. “It was during training camp, and he happened to call the head coach in Knoxville.”

While the coach attempted to “sell him” on the Ice Bears, he “mentioned a few names” that Swider might know,” Voorhees added. The coach called Voorhees and said, “’I’ve got Kevin Swider on the line, this is a guy we should probably look at bringing in,’” Voorhees recalled. “I said, ‘absolutely, yes.’

“It was nice to see a familiar face,” Voorhees added.

Drawing the pair still closer was “playing on his line for three of the four years that I played there,” said Voorhees, an Ice Bears right wing with retired from hockey in 2007 while playing Double-A in Fort Wayne, Ind.

“He's one of the closest friends that I have now.”

Close in residence, also. “I live about three subdivisions over from Kevin, in View Harbor,” said Voorhees, 34, who also has lived in the Farragut area about five years.

Voorhees said Swider “is the best player in the history of the league; he made it easy for me.”

Swider labels Voorhees “a great teammate and line-mate of mine.”

Despite minor league moves up to Double-A, Swider said he and wife, Angela, and daughter, Avery, 2, “Just loved it here so much; it’s why we came back up here.”

Swider added the Farragut area would “absolutely” be his family’s home for the foreseeable future.

Voorhees labels Swider as “pretty easy going, funny guy. A good personality, fun to be around. He’s a pretty humble guy.”

Except for “a medical condition with his heart,” Voorhees added that Swider “would be playing at a higher level, for sure. … Talent-wise he could play at the Triple-A level.”


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