By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Saturday, October 22, 2011
ONALASKA — The Coulee Region Chill got back to playing old-time hockey Friday night. Vintage, say, 2011 playoffs, or last month’s NAHL Showcase Tournament. The Chill skated, moved the puck, created plenty of scoring opportunities and stayed out of the penalty box.
But the St. Louis Bandits like to play that way, too, and were a little bit better at it, swiping a 4-2 win over the Chill at the OmniCenter.
In its past four series, Coulee Region had split with or been swept by four teams with a combined record of 13-36-1. And it had been ugly: the Chill hacked and shoved their way to the second-most penalty minutes in the league.
So playing like the skilled team they were built to be was encouraging for the Chill despite the loss.
“It does give us confidence that we can play and move the puck the way we did at the Showcase,” Chill forward David Ripple said.“We all have hope again instead of feeling down about the last few weekends.”
Coulee Region coach Garrett Strot knew his team would be in trouble if it went on another parade to the penalty box. The Bandits simply don’t hurt themselves, averaging the second-least penalty minutes, and could make the Chill pay dearly for giving up power plays.
In a way, they still did. Coulee Region took just two minor penalties in the game — after taking 17 for 53 minutes on Oct. 15 against Minot — but St. Louis capitalized both times.
“The bottom line was their power play went 2-for-2 and ours went 0-for-3,” Strot said. “We had chances. We didn’t bury ’em and they did.”
Coulee Region displayed its kinder, gentler attitude in the first period. The Chill went without a penalty in a period for the first time since Sept. 17 and not only skated with the Bandits, but outskated them for most of the first 20 minutes.
Ben Jaremko and Mac Jansen got open for breakaways in the first six minutes, and the Chill had a 10-1 shots on goal advantage when Bandits coach Jeff Brown called a timeout at 8:23.
Ten seconds later, Jansen took a pass from Tommy Miller and beat Spencer Viele (32 saves) to make it 1-0.
Joe Kalisz responded for St. Louis four minutes later and the game was tied 1-1 after the first period.
“That was probably the best period we played all year,” Strot said.
Ripple put the Chill ahead 2-1 early in the second period when he kept the puck on an odd-man rush and beat Viele low.
The Bandits again tied it quickly, not letting the Chill get too much momentum, on Josh Dangel’s shot over the glove of Aaron Davis (33 saves).
St. Louis maximized its two power plays later in the second period as Kalisz and Dakota Zaharichuk converted.
“We played fine, good enough to win,” Ripple said. “But we’ve got to get our shots on net.”
GISLASON AWAITING TRADE: Defenseman Ben Gislason remains on the Chill roster but is not with the team. Gislason, who has six points and leads the team with a plus-eight rating, has requested a trade.
“He’s in limbo right now,” Strot said. “He wanted to be traded so I’m trying to accommodate him. I’ve contacted 12 teams and only two are interested and he’s not interested in them. I’m trying to get him to where he wants to go.”