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.\”