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Another successful camp completed

The Chill had another great tryout this weekend in the Twin Cities.   With plenty of fast-paced action the players took the ice for another chance to become a part of the Coulee Region Chill Hockey team.  After three days of spirited play there were about thirty players invited back to final camp on July 28th in Anoka, MN.  Thank you to everyone that participated and helped make it a success.

Chill happy with Plan B on draft day

LACROSSE TRIBUNE BY JOEL BADZINSKI | Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:05 am

RAMSEY, Minn. – There was a bit of chaos, some last-minute shuffling, a few unprintable words and after it was over, relief and smiles.

In other words, like a hockey game itself.

Except there was no final score, just names that will become faces later this summer. The Coulee Region Chill junior hockey team, the area\’s newest sports franchise, participated in the NAHL Entry Draft on Wednesday, taking six players, including Onalaska High School forward Nathan Trannel.

General manager Rick Wesp, coach Garrett Strot and assistant coach Todd Sanden, dressed casually for the event in golf shirts, shorts and sandals, gathered in an office in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities – where all three are still based as they haven\’t moved to the Onalaska area yet – to put together key pieces of next season\’s team.

It was the culmination of many months of scouting games, practices, showcase tournaments and countless hours on the phone.

\”We\’re real excited with the draft,\” Wesp said afterward. \”It went pretty well.\”

The day didn\’t start well. A half-hour before the draft started at

1 p.m., neither Strot nor Sanden had Internet access, a fairly important factor as the draft was to be conducted online.

Instead of poring over his draft list in the final minutes before it was time to pick, Strot was on the phone trying to work out problems with the wireless setup.

So the trio hustled from a conference room to a makeshift setup on a computer with a high-speed line and resumed preparations. The Chill had to wait until the 25th pick of the first round, meaning there was plenty of time to watch and worry.

There were chuckles when Motor City selected a player six picks too soon, and the league\’s Web moderator had to call a draft \”time out\” to correct the mix-up.

There were groans when Amarillo took Dan Scherer, a forward from the Milwaukee Junior Admirals whom the Chill coveted.

\”We\’re gonna go to Plan B,\” Wesp said.

As their pick got closer, Wesp started to fret again.

\”You know what, let\’s get a third guy lined up,\” he said. \”I got a bad feeling.\”

When the 25th pick came up, Wesp, Strot and Sanden felt better. Their next option, forward Martin Gruse from Trenton (Mich.) High School, was available.

\”You go get him if you want him,\” Wesp told Strot, who sat at the computer ready to enter the pick.

Strot did, and Gruse, who led his team to the Michigan Division 2 state title while scoring 19 goals and 28 assists for 45 points, became the first draft pick in Chill history.

Next, the Chill went for Trannel, knowing that in addition to a good local story they were also getting a good hockey player who is still realizing his potential after missing all of his junior season with a knee injury.

By 3:20 p.m., the Chill was done drafting, having added three more forwards and a defenseman.

\”A lot of time, a lot of research,\” Strot said of the process leading up to Wednesday. \”We sent scouts all over the U.S. You\’ve got to have a Plan A, B, and C because you don\’t know what other teams are thinking.\”

The Chill will hold two more open tryout camps this summer, looking for players to sign to tender contracts, before their final training camp Aug. 30-July 1 at a site to be determined.

\”We\’re very excited to get started now,\” Strot said.

Chill drawn to Trannel’s ‘edge’

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.\”

Tryouts began this past weekend with more on the way

By Jim den Hollander

for the Coulee Region Chill

More than 100 players, hoping to be among the first to wear the fighting penguin jersey were in attendance at the Brooklyn Park Community Arena in the suburbs of Minnesota\’s twin cities May 14-16, making up six scrimmage teams and a bus squad of 17 goaltenders.

For team owners and staff it was a chance to check out the skills of a talented group of skaters from across North America and even a couple from Europe .

For the players, it was a last chance to get noticed by the brass that will head to one more final pre-draft camp in Jacksonville Florida, May 21-23, then release its protected list in days leading up the May 26 NAHL draft.

For the Chill though, there may not be a lot of openings. Head coach Garrett Strot expects a solid group of returning players will be the nucleus of the 2010-11 Chill, formerly known as the North Iowa Outlaws.

\”Yeah, last year, we didn\’t have a core of players coming back from the year because we were a really old team a couple of years ago. So, this year we\’re going to have a core of players coming back and that makes a huge difference. Guys that have a year of experience with the league. They kind of show the younger guys how it\’s done, they know what my expectations are and how we want practices run and stuff like that.

\”Now, to have that leadership just of example reasons, is going to be huge.\”

The happiest player at the end of the weekend was likely James Hughes a 5\’7. 170 pound forward who last season played for the Centennial High School Cougars in Blaine , not far from the Brooklyn Park tryout site.

The team wrapped up the weekend signing Hughes to one of its two available tenders and general manager Rick Wesp said he will be among the 20-23 names on the Chill\’s protected list next week.

Hughes was second on his team in scoring this past season, triggering 19 goals and chipping in 14 assists for 33 points in 25 games played. He was a +32 for his team and picked up 37 minutes in penalties, helping the Cougars to a second place finish in the Northwest Suburban Conference and a 14-2-2 conference record.

Aside from that, coach Strot said some other names have been jotted down leading up to the team\’s pre-season training camp in August, which could also be held in the Brooklyn Park arena.

\”What we do, we have three other camps and you take 15-20 from each camp and invite them to our final camp. That\’s where we really make the decision. We\’re going to have all of the better players grouped together and then you get a really good feel of how the players can compete.\”

Coaches will head south to Jacksonville Florida for another tryout camp May 21-23, the final session before the league draft later that week.

Currently, the team will make its first selection of the draft with the final selection of the opening round, a pick originally owned by the NAHL champion Bismarck Bobcats. However, Wesp said he currently has several irons in the fire which could change the number and position of team draft picks.

Following the draft, the team will have another open camp in St. Paul June 24-26, then at the Petit Center in Milwaukee July 9-11 and a final training camp July 30 to Aug. 1 with the team\’s official training camp opening shortly after.

League meetings in early June will finalize the league\’s divisions and schedule for the 2010-11 season. 

While the schedule will not be set for a while, tickets are already on sale in 15-ticket Flex Packs. The $135 Flex Pack includes a savings of $15 for the 15 adult tickets and they can be use at 15 different home games or for a group of up to 15 at one or more games. For more information on tickets, contact Daniel Mannigel, Director of Marketing and Sales at 608-4985454 or Rik Franke in Marketing/Operations/Multimedia at 608-386-8794.

 

Coulee Region’s Bohrer decides on Canisius

by Brian McDonough | NAHL.com

The Coulee Region Chill has announced that forward Ryan Bohrer has committed to Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey) for the coming fall.

He\’s the 13th player who competed in January\’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament to commit to a Division I school after the event.

\”I\’m very excited to finally fulfill my dream of playing Division I hockey,\” said Bohrer.  \”I wanted to receive a great education and, at Canisius, I\’ll not only be playing on a great team, but will also have the opportunity to receive a top-notch education.\”

\”I\’m very proud of Ryan,\” said Chill head coach Garrett Strot.  \”He worked very hard this season to earn this opportunity.\”

Bohrer, who turns 20 this month, led the North Iowa Outlaws, who will relocate to Coulee Region for the 2010-11 season, in scoring with 54 points (14 goals) in 58 games.

\”Playing in the NAHL and for the Outlaws the past two seasons was a great experience,\” said Bohrer, who also credits his family and teammates for his commitment.  \”I was able to improve my strength and overall game by being pushed on a daily basis in practices and off-ice training.

\”The schedule (in the NAHL) is similar to that of a college season, but much longer,\” he added.  \”With nearly 60 games in the regular season, one of the things you need to learn fast is how to be consistent; I think that\’s one of the biggest things I improved on over the last two years.\”

At Canisius, Bohrer will reunite with forward Ben Danford, who started the season with the Outlaws before being traded to the Robertson Cup champion Bismarck Bobcats (Danford committed to Canisius while playing for the Outlaws).

\”Ben and I played on opposing teams in high school in the same conference and I\’ll be glad to have him back on my team next season,\” said Bohrer.

The Canisius coaching staff first contacted Bohrer, from St. Paul, with about a month left in the regular season after watching him play in the Top Prospects Tournament and a number of times on the Internet.

\”We continued talking over the next few months as they continued to follow my progress,\” said Bohrer.  \”I was very interested in Canisius\’ hockey success as well as its accredited business school, which is my planned major, so when (Golden Griffins head) Coach (Dave) Smith made me an offer, it was an easy decision.\”

Bohrer is nothing but thankful for the added exposure he and his fellow NAHLers received at the Top Prospects Tournament.

\”It was a huge highlight of my season,\” said Bohrer.  \”It was fun to play with guys from my division who I was usually matched up against every weekend.  Playing with and against top-caliber players was challenging and helped everyone to be seen by college coaches from across the country.\”

The other Top Prospects players who have committed to Division I schools since the event are: Alexandria Blizzard goaltender Chris Kamal (University of Alaska-Anchorage); Alaska Avalanche defenseman Jake Parenteau (University of Minnesota); Bismarck Bobcats forwards Ben Danford (Canisius College) and Casey Kleisinger (Air Force Academy) and goaltender Ryan Faragher (Dartmouth College); Fairbanks Ice Dogs forward Justin Kirchhevel (Alaska-Anchorage) and defenseman Josh Nelson (Minnesota State-Mankato); Janesville Jets forward Rui Encarnacao (University of Connecticut); Owatonna Express forward Cory Thorson (St. Cloud Sate University) and defenseman Jake Sloat (Bowling Green State University); Topeka RoadRunners forward Erik Higby (Northern Michigan University); and Wenatchee Wild forward Shawn Pauly (Air Force).

View the complete NAHL College List here.

Junior hockey: Front office hard at work preparing for Chill’s debut

LACROSSE TRIBUNE BY JOEL BADZINSKI | Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:00 am

So what has the Coulee Region Chill junior hockey team been up to since announcing its move to Onalaska seven weeks ago?

Not chillin\’, that\’s for sure.

Team co-owner Mark Motz has been doing everything from interviewing host families and ordering equipment bags to hiring staff and choosing official team logos.

Meanwhile, general manager Rick Wesp, coach Garrett Strot and assistant coach Todd Sanden have been haunting rinks all over the Midwest in search of prospects.

\”There are a lot of different things going on,\” Motz said.

The North Iowa Outlaws began morphing into the Coulee Region Chill on March 3. The team will begin play in the North American Hockey League (Junior A, Tier II) this September.

Motz said that even though the basic infrastructure of a hockey franchise was in place – the Outlaws were in Mason City for five years – this spring still feels like starting over.

\”We have so many things to do that are not new but have to be repeated because we\’re in a different location,\” Motz said. \”This week, I\’ve met with a couple bus companies, insurance people, all the behind-the-scenes things. That\’s the stuff that isn\’t fun, but pretty soon you get all that put aside and you can start doing the fun stuff.\”

Motz said he plans on making ticket packages available next week. Instead of selling season tickets for all 27 home games, the team will sell \”Flex 15\” packages. Owners of a flex pack can use their 15 tickets in any amount for any games.

\”We wanted to do it that way; otherwise we\’d have to wait for the league schedule to come out in June, and we\’d like to get a jump start on that,\” Motz said.

Flex packages will be priced at $135, or $9 per ticket. Regular single-game tickets will be $10, and tickets for students with ID, including college, will go for $5.

The NAHL released the Chill\’s home jersey logo via its website on Wednesday. Motz said he plans on having away and alternate logos also.

Wesp has been working on building what will eventually become the team\’s 2010-11 roster. That means scouting spring showcase teams, offering player tender contracts and getting ready for the draft next month.

\”We\’ve all been out hitting the bushes in every rink around to find the kids we need,\” Wesp said. \”I talk to the coaches two, three, four times a day. We\’re always looking for a new spot where we can maybe find some kids.\”

The Chill will hold two pre-draft camps, two post-draft open camps and one final camp this summer before finalizing its 20-25 man roster. The 2010 NAHL Draft is May 26.

NAHL teams can sign up to eight players via tender offers before the draft, Wesp said. The Chill also will have players returning from last year\’s Outlaws team.

But the draft is still a big piece of the personnel puzzle.

\”It\’s really important,\” Wesp said. \”Some guys don\’t like to sign tenders, and you find some in pre-draft camps. We\’ve got some kids we\’re looking to draft and we\’re looking at certain guys, forwards and defense, and we\’ll take who\’s available.\”

North Iowa finished 15-37-6, last place in the Central Division, in 2009-10.

Wesp said he expects No. 1 goaltender Paul Moberg (10-26-3, 3.69 goals against average), leading scorer Ryan Bohrer (14 goals-40 assists-54 points) and top defensemen Matt Bloomquist (2-7-9), David Mylrea (1-8-9) and Mike McDonald (2-5-7) to return this winter.

\”We were a little young last year, and obviously the season didn\’t go the way we wanted,\” Wesp said. \”But I think our coaches learned a lot. We\’ve got (players) coming back who we\’re looking to really lead us, and we\’re excited about some high-impact players who\’ll be trying out.\”

Hockey team signs lease, reveals team name: Coulee Region Chill

LACROSSE TRIBUNE ARTICLE BY JOEL BADZINSKI | Tuesday, March 2, 2010 11:46 pm

ONALASKA – The OmniCenter\’s main ice arena was dark and quiet Tuesday afternoon.

But Mark Motz was able to envision nights in the near future with 1,000-plus fans cheering loudly for junior hockey.

It was not a daydream. Motz, lead owner of the North American Hockey League\’s North Iowa Outlaws, signed a five-year lease with the city of Onalaska and the OmniCenter at a press conference Tuesday.

That officially brought the Outlaws to Onalaska, where they\’ll wear black, blue and white and play as the Coulee Region Chill beginning next fall.

\”I think we\’re pretty satisfied with everything that\’s come together,\” OmniCenter manager Tom Hammill said.

Motz and two business partners bought an NAHL (Junior A, Tier II) franchise 5½ years ago and first looked at Onalaska. The sides couldn\’t come to terms then because of ice availability, and Motz instead brought a team to Mason City, Iowa.

With the Outlaws\’ five-year lease expiring after this season and Motz wanting to move to the Coulee Region to be closer to his family, including a daughter, son, and their spouses and children, he revisited the OmniCenter, and talks got serious in early January.

Motz and OmniCenter representatives, led by Hammill and Onalaska Community Development Authority chairman Mike Gargaro, worked on the lease through late January and February. They agreed on terms of the lease Feb. 23.

The NAHL Board of Governors unanimously approved the Outlaws\’ move to Onalaska on Monday, and the final step was taken Tuesday with the signing of the lease.

\”This was really our first choice when we bought a franchise five years ago,\” Motz said. \”We\’ve been at Mason City for five years, and when we came back to talk about coming in again we were able to make the whole thing happen.\”

Key points of the lease:

n The team pays $500 for ice rental on game nights. There are 27 regular-season home games from September through March.

n A concessions profit split based on 55 percent to the OmniCenter and 45 percent to the team, although that percentage changes for special events, Hammill said.

n The five-year lease includes a review of terms after two years.

n The team will pay for any locker room renovations it wishes to make.

With the lease and team name in place, Outlaws/Chill general manager Rick Wesp said the team will start to work itself into the community throughout the spring and summer.

\”First, we\’ve got to finish our season (in Mason City); we\’re fighting for a playoff spot,\” Wesp said. \”After that, Mark will be moving in here, he\’ll be hiring people for the front office while we\’ll be constantly scouting and looking at kids.\”

The NAHL draft is held in late May. Teams hold a series of tryout camps throughout the summer and set rosters by Aug. 1.

Players are age 16-20 and are considered top amateur prospects who are showcasing themselves for college programs.

\”Our goal is the move \’em to the next level and the school they want to get to,\” Wesp said.

Wesp said Chill games will be an \”event\” with promotions happening between periods, similar to La Crosse Loggers baseball games in the summer.

\”We want to turn this into an event,\” Wesp said. \”There\’ll be good hockey, outstanding hockey on the ice, and we get the fans into it, also. It\’s going to be fun.\”

Onalaska native Jordan Tredinnick (Owatonna, Minn.) and Black River Falls\’ Matt Millis (Fairbanks, Ak.) are playing in the NAHL this season.

Three former area stars used the NAHL as a steppingstone to NCAA Division I rosters: Alex McRae (Army), Eriah Hayes (Minnesota State, Mankato) and Alex Gerke (Connecticut).

\”This is great; this is going to help hockey in the area,\” longtime area high school and former junior player Tim Franzini said. \”I think they\’ll draw pretty well. The pace of the game and the skill level are going to be unbelievable, and it\’s a great product they put on the ice.\”