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For Coulee Region, few moves has been a good move

By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Thursday, March 31, 2011

ONALASKA – The NAHL transactions list for 2010-11 runs over 600 lines and makes for some boring reading.

Traded, released, acquired, and so on.

One team that barely contributed to the litany was the Coulee Region Chill, who made a grand total of four in-season moves.

Twenty-three players remain from the Sept. 1 roster; only forward Jakob Batcha, acquired from Fargo (USHL) on Jan. 5, has been added. Three players – forwards Dane Shaugabay, DJ Thomas and Kevin Mansolill – were traded or released.

By contrast, Port Huron and New Mexico both made 19 roster moves between Jan. 1 and the end of the regular season March 27. Springfield shuffled eight players around in a three-day span in mid-February.

Coulee Region's hold-steady philosophy yielded a 33-20-5 record and second-place finish in the Central Division.

The Chill play Owatonna in the first round of the playoffs. Game 1 of the best-of-five series is 7 p.m. Friday at the OmniCenter.

The Coulee Region roster that will face the Express is basically the same one that took the ice for the team's opener against Port Huron on Sept. 15 in Blaine, Minn.

"We like the group we have," Chill coach Garrett Strot said. "We do a good job of scouting and making sure we have guys that can play in the league. A lot of teams are moving guys, getting rid of guys they don't want. If something would have made sense, we would have made a change, but nothing did and we decided to stick with the status quo."

Coulee Region's biggest move of the season was landing Batcha, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound forward. The Chill had offered Batcha a tender contract in the spring of 2010 before he was drafted by Fargo.

Batcha has 10 points in 23 games since joining the Chill and has made a smooth transition to his new team.

"He came from the USHL, and you're always glad to add a guy like that," Chill captain David Mylrea said. "He's young, he's got speed; I think he was a perfect fit."

Strot and general manager Rick Wesp scout other teams and follow the waiver wire like everyone else in the league. Except for getting Batcha, they didn't feel the need to do much dealing.

"The chemistry we have is pretty good," Strot said. "That's another reason we've stuck with what we've had. If there's people causing trouble off the ice or in the locker room, you're probably going to move 'em."

Strot also said it's not in his nature to give up on a player. Strot was coach of the Osseo (Minn.) High School boys hockey team for 14 seasons before moving to the NAHL.

"It is a development league," Strot said. "The bottom line is, yes, you want to win and you need to win, but you're trying to improve these kids so they can make it to the college level. A lot of that is my teaching and coaching background; you've got to work with the players you have. I want to develop them and make them better."

Mylrea said the players appreciate the coaching staff's willingness to stick with them and not pull a quick trigger on cuts or trades.

"When you've got 23 guys that stay together for the entire season and nobody's moving, the chemistry just goes through the roof."

Roster on ice

Coulee Region Chill 2010-11 transactions:

Added:

F Jakob Batcha (acquired from USHL Fargo on Jan. 5)

Traded/released:

F Dane Shaugabay

F DJ Thomas

F Kevin Mansolill

23 players remain from Sept. 1 roster