LACROSSE TRIBUNE By JOEL BADZINSKI | Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:05 am (photo by LACROSSE TRIBUNE Staff)
RAMSEY, Minn. – Nathan Trannel could not have pictured this when he sat out the 2008-09 hockey season with a knee injury.
The Cou-lee Region Chill junior team selected Trannel, a senior forward from Onalaska High School, with its second pick of Wednesday\’s NAHL Entry Draft (second round, 33rd overall).
If Trannel makes the team, he will continue his hockey career in the OmniCenter. The Chill relocated from Mason City, Iowa, to Onalaska this past offseason.
\”It just shows the work that I put in over the last year-and-a-half after the injury paid off,\” Trannel said. \”I\’m pretty excited right now.\”
Trannel\’s former Onalaska High School teammate, Jordan Tredinnick, played for the NAHL\’s Owatonna team last season and is expected to return.
Trannel suffered a torn right ACL and meniscus during the 2008 football season, and wasn\’t able to play hockey while he recovered from surgery. He watched as the Hilltoppers marched to the WIAA state tournament, a bittersweet time for him.
Junior hockey started to look like a long shot for Trannel during the winter of 08-09.
\”That would have been nice to hear; it would have been hard to believe,\” Trannel said. \”But with hard work sometimes there\’s a good payoff.\”
Trannel suffered another setback early last season when he suffered a shoulder injury. He missed about a month and came back strong, scoring 18 goals and 17 assists (35 points) in 19 games.
\”Toward the end of the season I was starting to play really well,\” Trannel said.
Trannel continued his comeback by making Team Wisconsin, where he caught the attention of the Chill\’s front office.
\”We saw him in the fall and in the showcase, and the coaches down there liked what they saw,\” Chill general manager Rick Wesp said. \”What I liked about him is that he goes to the net hard, he\’s got a little edge, plays with a little attitude and I like that. He\’s from Onalaska and that\’s a plus, but now he needs to come and prove he can be on the team.\”
The Chill selected six players over five rounds Wednesday, making Martin Gruse, a forward from Trenton (Mich.) High School, its first pick (first round, 25th overall). Gruse led his team to the Michigan Division 2 state championship last winter while scoring 19 goals and 28 assists (45 points).
\”Lot of speed, a playmaker,\” Wesp said of Gruse. \”We\’re pretty excited about him. He gets up and he goes, and his best years are still coming. He\’s a quality kid, quality hockey player.\”