The Coulee Region Chill are entering their 4th season playing out of the Omni Center in Onalaska and new GM/Head Coach A.J. Degenhardt & Assistant Coach Erik Largen have their sights set on making the NAHL Playoffs this season after the team missed out for the first time finishing last in the Central Division, 16-39-5.
The 2013 NAHL Entry Draft takes place tomorrow and A.J. had this to say about the Chill Pre-Draft Camp in Vadnais Heights MN and the importance of the draft. “We were very pleased with our first camp. We ended up having 6 full teams of players and 3 goalies per team. There was definitely some talent that we are considering for the upcoming draft and a few surprises that showed up as well”.
A.J. on the importance of the Draft and where the team sits heading in. “A lot goes into the draft and addressing our team needs. With the somewhat unexpected loss of Derek Smith (Quinnipiac D1) and Sean Lang getting drafted by Muskegon (USHL) there is definitely a priority on D in the early rounds”.
“The biggest strengths are our returning group of forwards and our returning goalie. We feel very confident with the guys we have returning up front and Blake Cates in the net. We have traded for 2 defensemen at this point to give some added depth on the blue line. Matt Montemurro (D, Odessa Jackalopes) who I coached with Team Illinois is a nice player stuck on a struggling team in Odessa and Dunk Abbott (D, Port Huron) played in 25 games and had 3 goals and 10 assists. Both were acquired for draft picks. Montemurro for a 7th round pick and Abbott for a 3rd round pick”.
A.J. on whether the Chill have taken a look or have interest in free agents that played for teams in the NAHL that are dormant this year? “We have definitely inquired about players from teams going dormant and we do have some exciting pick ups, but that information is confidential at this stage because they are all technically free agents until they play a game”.
Here is the list of 2013’14 Coulee Region Chill Tenders
Mitch Hults (F) Team Illinois U-18, Indiana Ice (USHL) http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=147860
Tanner Barnes (F) Chicago Fury (MWEHL), Minnesota Wilderness (SIJHL), Brookings Blizzard (NAHL)
Kurt Halbach (D) Milwaukee Jr. Admirals
Gabe Flood (F) Onalaska High School
Curtis Simonson (D) Grand Rapids High School
Brogan Rafferty (D) Team Illinois U-18, Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL)
Griff Jeszka (F) Milwaukee Marquette High School
Drew Otto (F) Granite City Lumberjacks (NA3HL), Port Huron Fighting Falcons (NAHL)
Riley Hummitsch (F) Anaheim Jr. Ducks U-16 (NAPHL)
Mitchell McLean (D) Atlanta Fire U-18 (NAPHL)
The returning players up front that A.J. was referring to is 2012’13 Captain and leading scorer, Mac Jansen along with Andy Faust, Hunter Anderson, James McGing, Kevin Becker, Eddie Matsushima, Cam Bleck, Jesse Tredinnick, Adam Lovick, Jimmy Kortum & Blake Kelley.
Chill veterans capable of returning this season to the blue line, Aleksi Mustaniemi and Max Zebro. Mike McMahon was traded to the Minnesota Wilderness who joined the NAHL for 2013’14.
The loss of Derek Smith and Sean Lang, aka the “Apple Valley Gang” will be big, so like Coach Degenhardt said, it will be very important to look D in the early rounds of the NAHL Entry Draft tomorrow.