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Express defeats Chill 3-0

By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Saturday, December 4, 2010

ONALASKA – It was hard to fault the Coulee Region Chill's offensive effort Friday.

The Chill produced wave after wave of the kind of juicy scoring opportunities that bring fans up out of their seats and the goal judge's finger a twitch away from turning on the lamp.

What it amounted to was exactly zero goals, however, as the Owatonna Express and goaltender Charles Williams shut down the Chill for a 3-0 victory at the OmniCenter.

"Too much offense to get shut out," Coulee Region coach Garrett Strot said.

Williams made 34 saves for his first NAHL shutout. The 18-year-old from Canton, Mich., certainly earned it. The Chill tested him with point-blank chances on the power play, several odd-man rushes and a few scrambles in front.

Nothing went through, and with each pressure save, Williams' confidence grew.

"That gets you in the groove when the other team has scoring opportunities and you have to be ready," Williams said.

The Chill missed more than scoring chances. With a victory, they could have moved into a tie for second place in the Central Division with Owatonna. Instead, the Express (14-8-4, 32 points) took over first place, and Coulee Region (13-7-2, 28) settled into third.

Owatonna had the Chill bottled up in the first five minutes of the game, getting five quick shots on Paul Moberg (25 saves).

A Coulee Region power play broke the spell, and the Chill were on the offensive for the better part of the final 2½ periods.

In fact, it was a major flurry by Coulee Region that led to Owatonna's first goal, which held up as the game-winner.

Onalaska native Nathan Trannel drew a slashing penalty, putting the Chill on the power play. Even after the penalty expired, Coulee Region kept swarming Williams' net.

With defenseman Eric Drapluk in deep on the attack and no one back to cover his position, Owatonna chipped the puck out of the zone, starting a 2-on-1.

Express leading scorer Ben Persian knew what to do, beating Moberg with a shot from the right circle.

"We were creating chances, and that's what happens," Strot said. "They knock the puck away, and all of a sudden it's a 2-on-1. That was kind of how the game went."

Owatonna made it 2-0 on a power-play goal by Marian Fiala at 1:51 of the third period. It set up a similar situation to the Chill's last game, during which they fell behind Alexandria by two goals early in the third, then rallied to win 4-3.

The main difference was Williams, who put the finishing touch on his shut out by turning away Drapluk alone in the slot with 1:44 left in the third period.

"We couldn't buy one," Drapluk said. "Sometimes it doesn't go your way and you've got to get through it. We didn't get some bounces, but their goalie played a hell of a game."

Nick Widing's empty-net goal with 17 seconds left closed it out.

The Chill were shut out for the second time this season. They lost their home opener to Aberdeen 3-0 on Oct. 29.

"You've got to put your scoring chances away when you get them," Strot said.

UP NEXT: Chill at Alexandria, 7:30 p.m. Friday 

Ripple named NAHL Central Player of the Week

Coulee Region forward David Ripple struck for two goals and three assists as the Chill skated to a 2-1 record last week. After picking up an assist in a 6-1 loss to the Janesville Jets on Wednesday, the Winter Springs, Fla., native registered two more assists, including one on Lucas Dillon’s game-winning goal, in the Chill’s 5-1 triumph over the Austin Bruins on Thanksgiving. The 19-year-old tallied two goals on Saturday – a 4-3 victory over the Alexandria Blizzard. He was also a plus-4 for the week.

“David is a big, strong forward who likes to play in front of the net,” said Chill head coach Garrett Strot. “He continues to get better every game.”

See the rest of the NAHL Players of the Week here

Big comeback could provide future boost for Chill

By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Saturday, November 27, 2010

This win could be worth more than two points for the Coulee Region Chill.  The carryover from a furious third-period rally and 4-3 victory over the Alexandria Blizzard on Saturday night at the OmniCenter figures to resonate for a while.

"That's huge for our confidence," forward David Ripple said. "We know we can come back if that happens again."

Ripple scored back-to-back goals during the comeback, and defenseman Matt Blomquist buried the game-winner on a 50-foot slapshot. Coulee Region's tying and go-ahead goals came 40 seconds apart in the final 1:36 of the third period.  Backup goalie Aaron Davis won his second straight start, making 36 saves.

"In the third period it was just a matter of, you've gotta work hard and get after it," Chill coach Garrett Strot said.

For long stretches, it didn't look like the Chill's night.  Alexandria methodically built a 3-1 lead while Coulee Region had one goal waved off and missed out on another chance when Lucas Dillon was stopped on a penalty shot.  The disallowed goal came in the first period with the Blizzard leading 1-0. Chris Hughes took a point-blank shot that drove goalie Josh Williams sliding back into his own net, and it appeared he'd brought the puck with him. But after a brief conference the officials concurred on the wave-off.

"They never saw it cross the goal line," Strot said. "You'd have to have an overhead camera to have seen it."

The kicker for the Chill seemed to come early in the third when their defense lost track of Nardo Nagtzaam, the fourth-leading scorer in the league, and a wide-open Nagtzaam scored easily to make it 3-1.

"That was disappointing," Strot said. "He's probably the best player in the league. We had him covered for a while there, but he's so good at separating from defenders. You can't lose that kid."

Ripple made it 3-2 on a power-play redirect at 8:07, and from that point on the Chill were on the all-out attack.  With just over five minutes left in the third, Dillon was pulled down in front of the net and awarded a penalty shot. Williams (31 saves) kicked away the low shot, and Alexandria took a two-goal lead into the final two minutes.  Coulee Region kept coming.  Ripple tied it when he got control of the puck at the side of the net, circled in front and fired through a mass of bodies past a screened Williams, tying it at 18:27.

"I just wanted to get it through," Ripple said. "I figured get it up in the air because I knew he was down, just go up top somewhere."

Forty seconds later, Blomquist, the team's top-scoring defenseman, skated down the right wing and blasted a shot past a stunned Williams for a 4-3 lead at 19:05.  The Chill kept Alexandria bottled up and prevented Williams from leaving the net for a sixth attacker, capping the inspired comeback.

"With a couple minutes left, we had to put something together," Davis said. "It was quite the experience."

Chill getting warm reception as hockey players reach out

By Jo Anne Killeen  | Onalaska-Holmen Courier Life | Friday, November 26th, 2010

Area elementary students got to “chill out” last week with members of the Coulee Region Chill junior hockey team when the players visited schools.

Team members visiting schools — including Onalaska High School graduate Nathan Trannel, one of the players visiting Northern Hills Elementary — are all part of the effort to establish the Chill as a local institution during its first year at the OmniCenter in Onalaska.

“We’re trying to be as involved as we can with the hockey community and the community at large,” said Rik Franke, marketing, operations and multimedia manager for the Coulee Region Chill. “We do whatever we can in terms of providing merchandise, tickets and getting our guys out for whatever we’re requested.”

Left wingers David Ripple and Bryan Broder and right winger James Hughes visited Viking Elementary on Nov. 17, which happened to be National Young Readers Day.  Ripple said it was his first time representing a team in schools. “I did it because the team wants to give back to the community,” Ripple said.

Franke said plans are in the works to visit West Salem and Bangor schools, but no dates have been set.

Franke said team officials have been pretty pleased with the turnout at home games. The first home game was attended by more than 1,000 people, he said. “We’re gaining momentum and popularity.”

He acknowledged their home losses affect attendance. But with a 10-4-2 overall record (as of Nov. 18), Franke is optimistic the fans will keep coming.  The team got the community involved in naming the team’s penguin mascot. The winning idea: Shiver.

Team members also played baseball with the YMCA Miracle League team, and the team is arranging to sell Habitat for Humanity raffle tickets at a home game. Team members also have been out at the Sparta Boys & Girls Club for their golf outing and the Nathan Trannel Golf Tournament for the Onalaska Boosters, according to Franke.

Franke said the team also has been giving to a variety of sports teams, items for fundraising, and “contributed lots and lots of merchandise and tickets for those functions.”

The team is arranging a fundraiser for the Hunger Task Force, which will ask fans to come to the game with boxes of macaroni and cheese. “Those boxes make great noise-makers during the game,” Franke said.

Chill goalie Davis helps Coulee Region knock off former goalie Asmundson and Austin

Rick Solem | LaCrosse Tribune | Thursday, November 25, 2010

A year ago Keegan Asmundson was their goalie.  Traded in May, Asmundson, for the second time this season, was back facing his old team Thursday and it was his former teammates that prevailed.

Asmundson was good, saving 40 for Austin, but Coulee Region Chill goalie Aaron Davis was better.  Davis saved 36 shots in his fourth career game and led the Chill to a 5-1 win at the OmniCenter.  After Davis survived four Chill penalties and 20 shots on goal in the second period, Coulee Region coach Garrett Strot knew his young goalie would be alright.

"They had those flurries, but that's one thing he's really good at, tracking the puck and you could see he was on it tonight," Strot said. "He played with a lot of confidence. He saw everything. He played relaxed."

Davis was nervous, up just 2-1 midway through the third period. Then the Chill put up three unanswered goals and Davis had a hard time containing himself.

"I was going nuts out there," Davis said. "I was celebrating 10 times harder than when I was on the bench after those goals."

The goalies put on a show in the first two periods, but the play of the game was the goal that ultimately decided the outcome.  Right in front of Asmundson, David Ripple dumped the puck between his legs to Lucas Dillon, who slapped it in from six feet out.

"I yelled for it, and he knew exactly where I was," Dillon said. "He was falling over at the time, the (defense) was right on his back and he just dropped it right on the tape."

Zac Frischmon, who also assisted on that goal, opened the scoring 32 seconds in to the second period before the Chill (12-6-2) put it away in the third.  Berkley Scott scored on a one-timer from Eric Drapluk and Connor Gaarder with 5:44 remaining in the game. Nine seconds later, the Chill had a three-goal lead when Chris Hughes found Jake Useldinger for another score.  Useldinger found the back of the net again with 1:45 left for his second goal of the game and season.

"We started playing physical," Dillon said of the third period, "and when we do that, good things start to happen for us."

Chill defeat Austin in OT to split the series this weekend.


The Chill were off to a good start on Friday.  James Hughes' first-period goal, assisted by Nathan Trannel and Chris Hughes, put Coulee Region on the board.  Micky Knox scored on the power play to make it 2-1 just 70 seconds into the second period, but the Bruins' rallied scoring three in the second and one in the third to defeat the Chill 5-2.

Saturday started the other way as Austin (7-12-1) took a 2-0 first-period lead until Zac Frischmon scored a pair of goals for Coulee Region in the second period.  Mike McDonald tied the game again at the 18:06 mark of the third period to take it to overtime.  Coulee Region outshot Austin 48-31 and goaltender Paul Moberg made 28 saves. 

Lucas Dillon, scored at the 2:19 mark of overtime assisted by Scott Bell and Matt Blomquist, putting the Chill at 11-5-2 overall this season.  Dillon has seven goals and five assists (12 points) and leads the team with a plus-10 rating.

The Chill play at Janesville on Nov. 24 before hosting Austin on Thanksgiving, followed by another home game against Alexandria on Saturday Nov. 27.

Coulee Region’s Moberg commits to Air Force

November 17, 2010 | NAHL.com

The Coulee Region Chill has announced that goaltender Paul Moberg has committed to the Air Force Academy (Atlantic Hockey) for next season.

Moberg, a 19-year-old from Forest Lake, Minn., holds a 9-3-2 record in 14 appearances this season to compliment a 2.53 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

“Paul has proven to be one of the top goalies in the league this year, and I have no doubt he’ll continue to have success as a member of the Air Force Academy,” said Chill head coach Garrett Strot. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Paul and we’re very happy for him and his family.”

Moberg, who will compete in next month’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, is the sixth current NAHL player to hold a commitment to Air Force.

View the complete NAHL College Commitment List here.

Lucas Dillon named the Central Division player of the week

November 15, 2010 – NAHL Release

Coulee Region forward Lucas Dillon connected for four goals as the Chill skated to a two-game sweep over Austin. On Friday, the Thief River Falls, Minn., native put home a pair of goals, including the game-winner, in a 4-3 victory. The next night, the 20-year-old again lit the lamp twice as the Chill downed the Bruins, 7-4. He was also a plus-5 for the weekend.

“Lucas has been one of our most consistent players all year,” said Chill head coach Garrett Strot. “Since moving to center, he’s taken his game to another level.”

See the rest of the NAHL players of the week here

Chill beats Bruins, 7-4

By Rick Solem | La Crosse Tribune | Saturday, November 13, 2010

It took 52 seconds for the Austin Bruins to get on the board.  A few minutes later, they had the Coulee Region Chill down two.  That was enough for the Chill, who followed with six unanswered goals and won the NAHL contest 7-4 on Saturday night.

“It was a sluggish start, but we got stronger as the game went on,” Coulee Region coach Garrett Strot said.

The win in front of 903 fans at the OmniCenter pulled the Chill to 3-3 during their inaugural homestand. They are 10-4-2 overall and head back on the road until Nov. 25.

“‘It’s really important to be tough on your home ice,” Coulee Region’s Zac Frischmon said. “It’s nice to get on a roll here.”

Like the Bruins (6-11) did in the first period, Frischmon followed in the second, scoring within the first minute to tie things up.  It was his third game in a row with a goal and sixth in a row with at least a point.

“He’s been basically that from day one,” Strot said. “There haven’t been many games where he’s been shut out.”

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Blaine, Minn., native has recorded nine points over the past six games, including three points Saturday. He’s only been shut out three times this season, but he could care less if he’s scoring as long as the Chill keeps winning.

“It’s nice getting the points, but obviously I owe that to my team,” Frischmon said. “I’d be nothing without them.”

After his tying goal, Frischmon and Ben Jaremko assisted Connor Gaarder for the go-ahead score midway through the second period.  After that, the rout was on — for awhile — but it wasn’t just the offense that helped the Chill come back.

Chill goalie Paul Moberg was inspiring in the second period. He elicited “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from the fans with a pair of glove saves from point-blank shots. He finished with 29 saves.

“He’s, in my opinion, the best goalie in the league,” said Lucas Dillon, who has scored a pair of goals in the past two games. “It’s nice to know you have a goalie that can stop pretty much anything that’s coming.”

Austin made things interesting down the stretch with a pair of goals to pull within 6-4, but then Dillon shut the door with another goal. It was a rebound goal after the Chill sent two off the post.

“Lucas Dillon has been one of our best players the last four games,” Strot said.

The win was the third in a row for the Chill, coming on the heels of a four-game losing streak. 

“You have to win at home,” Strot said. “Hopefully that’s the only three we do lose at home, though in our league, that will be tough to do.”

Coulee Region Chill scores 4-3 NAHL hockey win over Austin Bruins

By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Saturday, November 13, 2010

ONALASKA — Coulee Region Chill coach Garrett Strot might have to rethink the Lucas Dillon-Scott Bell-Jake Useldinger line.

Put together three weeks ago for defense, the trio put away two key goals Friday night as the Chill clipped the Austin Bruins 4-3 in front of 628 at the OmniCenter.

Dillon scored both, converting perfect feeds from Bell and Useldinger, his second coming at 12:03 of the third period to put the Chill back ahead after Austin had scored three unanswered goals to tie it.

“My linemates were feeding me passes at the right times and in the right spots,” Dillon said. “I couldn’t ask for better passes. Coach relies on us as a defensive line and when we work hard good things happen offensively as well.’’

Chill fans were treated not only to the win, but also to Onalaska native Nathan Trannel’s first appearance in a home game after suffering a shoulder injury last month. There were also two fights, involving Coulee Region’s David Ripple vs. Matt Pilot and Berkley Scott vs. Nolan Kirley, that brought loud cheers.

The best part for Strot was the play of Dillon’s line.

“They played great tonight,” Strot said. “We work on that all the time in practice, going hard to the net.’’

The Chill (9-4-2) seemed to carry the momentum from their last game, a 1-0 win over Alexandria on Nov. 6, into Friday’s game. They built up the pressure on the Bruins’ defense until Zac Frischmon buried his team-leading 12th goal at 3:08 of the first on the power play.

Ripple set up the goal by forcing a turnover behind the net and sending the puck in front for Frischmon, who punched in his own rebound.

Six minutes later, Connor Gaarder one-timed a hard rebound off Matt Blomquist’s slapshot to make it 2-0.

Dillon’s line produced its first goal with persistent forechecking, a theme for the Chill all night. Bell got control of the puck at the right circle and slid it to Dillon in the slot, who shot through traffic for a 3-0 lead at 7:07.

With goaltender Paul Moberg (41 saves) controlling the defensive zone, Coulee Region nearly broke the game open.

But Austin, which came in having won three of its last four games, shocked the Chill with three goals in the first 10 minutes of the third period. James Dickinson got the rally going with two goals, one on the power play, and linemate Cody Hotchkin tied it on another power play.

The flurry broke Moberg’s shutout streak at 103:26.

Dillon and Useldinger halted Austin’s momentum by converting on a 2-on-1 break. Dillon got behind his defender and and redirected Useldinger’s pass under Keegan Asmundson.

Finally, the Chill had to survive 1:20 of a 6-on-4 advantage for the Bruins, who pulled Asmundson for an extra attacker just before Coulee Region committed another penalty.

“The guys did a good job of keeping things outside at the end,” Strot said, “and Moberg was making some saves on pucks he didn’t even see.’’