The Coulee Region Chill have a long season ahead of them and it is a 60 game grind with the first four tilts at the annual NAHL Showcase in Blaine MN. The CRC have had success in the past with 3-1 records in 2010'11 & 2011'12 but lost to St. Louis & Fresno respectively. This is 2013 and this Coulee Region Chill Showcase team has already erased that desperate feeling that fans got in the pit of their stomach every time they went to O.T. last year. Five games went to an extra frame last year and the Chill fell in all five. They lost three in O.T. and two in a shoot out. 2013, 2-0 in the extra frame and Blake Cates has stood strong between the pipes at the very end in both of those games.
When you watch this team you see a group of guys that don't give up, that skate hard all the time, that stand up to tough guys and whether they win or lose the fight they know they have each others backs. G-R-I-T is something that any Coach in the NAHL or on the bench of your favorite high school team will tell you is that extra ingredient that can make or break you. It seems in the first three games, that ingredient is within the angry penguin.
"King" Richard Zehnal has been everywhere for the CRC and has the stats to show for it with 3 goals (1 GWG)(2 PPG) on 4 shots and 1 assist. Richard plays on a line with Adam "Lovy" Lovick who has come out of the gate with intensity with 2 goals (1GWG)(2 PPG) and 1 assist and "Mac Attack" Jansen with 1 goal and 1 assist.
Last season the Coulee Region Chill power play was more like a power outage for much of the season and ranked near last in the league and after these first three games it is 3rd with a 28% success rate. Enter Jake Zeleznikar, power play specialist from the defensive position, something that has been missing since the days of "Draps" Eric Drapluk who is playing D1 at Lake Superior State. Jake has got a monsterous shot and it has created opportunities along with his vision. Zeleznikar has 3 assists and two of those coming on the power play.
Jesse Tredinnick had a huge night in what most would consider an upset win against previously unbeaten Wichita Falls, with a short handed goal and an assist. Blake Kelley showed his shot when Dunk Abbott fed him at the point on the power play against the Killer Bees and John Severson is a +2 with a goal for the Chill in just 2 games. Adam Carlson showed he's a confident rookie goaltender in his win against Corpus Christi allowing just 2 goals.
Coach A.J. Degenhardt & Assistant Coach Lincoln Nguyen have installed a system that is not over complicated to go along with a pretty intense training regiment and it's clear that the boys have responded to it. Reality is that very few teams that have great success in the NAHL Showcase go on to win the Robertson Cup. Teams are not near their stride at this point and players know that they are in front of hundreds of scouts that could help them reach their dreams, so the play can be elevated to heights that are not there during the grind of the 60 game season. Reality or no reality, this is the best start in Coulee Region Chill franchise history and tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m. they face the Wenatchee Wild, a city with extremely high expectations. They don't lose very often and their Head Coach Bliss Littler can write a book on how to get W's. This is not last years Wild squad, as they moved to Rio Grande Valley.
If I were you, I would get my tickets for the Chill home opener against the Janesville Jets for opening weekend Oct 18-19. This team is fun to watch.