By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune Blog | Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Coulee Region Chill did not ease into playoff preparations during this afternoon's practice at the OmniCenter.
Coach Garrett Strot had the team skate blue line-to-blue line sprints for about 15 minutes to end the session. No explanation necessary.
"It's playoff time," he told the team.
The Chill ended the regular season on a sour note, losing their final three games to drop into second place in the Central Division.
Coulee Region will face third-place Owatonna in the best-of-five first round series. Game 1 is 7 p.m. Friday at the OmniCenter.
Owatonna has given the Chill trouble this season, winning six of eight games. However, Coulee Region won two of the last three, including an 8-2 road win on Feb. 12.
The Express likes to clog up the neutral zone, counterattack off turnovers and let goaltender Charles Williams take care of the rest.
Williams is 6-1-1 with a 3.09 GAA against the Chill, but he also gave up six goals in two periods during the Feb. 12 blowout.
Much more on the Chill at www.lacrossetribune on Thursday and Friday.
Here's the full schedule from the NAHL.
Game 1: at Coulee Region, 7 p.m. today
Game 2: at Coulee Region, 7 p.m. Saturday
Game 3: at Owatonna, 7:30 p.m. April 8
Game 4: at Owatonna, 7:30 p.m. April 9 (if necessary)
Game 5: at Coulee Region, 7 p.m. April 11 (if necessary)
TEAM AWARDS: Connor Gaarder was named Offensive MVP and Matt Blomquist Defensive MVP at the Chill's year-end banquet tonight.
Scott Bell, a forward/defenseman, was named unsung hero, forward David Ripple and defenseman Eric Drapluk were named rookies of the year. Onalaska native Nathan Trannel was given the Chill Award.
WHY NOT: The NAHL approved a expansion franchise for Minot, N.D. on Monday. The Minot Minotauros-the unusual nickname spelling is correct-will join the Chill in the Central Division next season, meaning a couple more long bus trips across the frozen winter abyss of North Dakota.