By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:45
ONALASKA — Goaltender Aaron Davis buys into the high expectations for the Coulee Region Chill’s second season in Onalaska.
Davis also knows there’s a lot of work to do between now and a playoff run next spring.
The Chill opened practice on Tuesday at the OmniCenter in preparation for eight-plus months of hockey.
“Today’s going to be our first time on the ice and we’ll know a little more after that,” Davis said. “We’ve got to become a team here in two weeks and we’ve got to be able to all function together but already it’s been going well.”
The Chill open against the Jamestown Ironmen at 1:15 p.m. on Sept. 14 at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn.
Coulee Region finished second in the Central Division and lost to Bismarck in the second round of the playoffs last season. Twelve players return from that team.
Davis will take over as the No. 1 goalie, with Paul Moberg now at Air Force and will get help from a strong group of veteran defensemen led by Matt Blomquist, who has committed to Division I Bentley (2012-13), playmaker Eric Drapluk and Ben Gislason, Andrew Pitts and Tate Rusk.
Forward David Ripple is the returning leading scorer after Zac Frischmon (Mercyhurst) and Connor Gaarder (North Dakota) moved on to Division I programs.
“I think my expectations are to keep building from last year and hopefully take that next step,” coach Garrett Strot said. “I think we have a good core back and I like the new guys we brought in.”
LOOKING AT DRAPLUK: Drapluk, projected to be one of the top offensive defensemen in the NAHL this season, has an official visit to Division I Lake Superior State set for next week.
Drapluk scored 27 points in 55 games last season, his second in junior hockey after playing for Philadelphia (EJHL) in 2009-10.
“Nothing is on the table right now,” Drapluk said. “I’m getting some looks and hopefully I’ll get some more at the Showcase.”
Coulee Region Chill vs. Jamestown Ironmen, 1:15 p.m. Sept. 14 at Blaine, Minn