It has been a busy summer for the Bozeman Icedogs preparing for the upcoming 2013-14 season. New Head Hockey Coach Mark Vichorek has been extremely busy recruiting players from across the country this summer. "It has been a pretty good couple of months on the recruiting path this summer. Going to North American Hockey League camps and other College and Junior showcases to find players has been very rewarding.
Some players attend so many camps to get exposure and hopefully catch on that I get a chance to see them skate several times over the course of the summer. Chase Engdahl, a defenseman from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Austin Nottke, a forward from Surprise, Arizona will be two of my leaders this upcoming season. These two played for me in the past and are tested veterans in junior hockey and two very tough players that work hard and understand that the team always comes first.
Chase played for me in Stevens Point, Wisconsin for the Central Wisconsin Saints of the MNJHL his first year out of high school and the Queen City Steam of the NA3HL this past season. Chase loves to bang people around on the boards, block shots and mix it up when the time calls for it. He will be one of the toughest players in the league this season.
Austin also played for me in Wisconsin for the Saints. He too is a very tough player that likes to throw his body around and mix it up as well. A tenacious forechecker with great strength along the boards, Nottke moves the puck well both defensively and on the attack.
A new face coming to the Icedogs who just recently signed a contract is Kegan Couture. I recruited Kegan pretty aggressively this summer after seeing him play in the Brookings Blizzard of the NAHL, Pre-draft camp. Kegan is another tough kid that moves the puck very well up ice and to his team mates. Kegan was drafted in the NA3HL draft but opted to come to Bozeman and be an Icedog. Kegan is a forward and should be one of the leading scorers this season . He comes to us from Pequot Lakes Minnesota and just finished high school and will be in his first junior hockey season."
Vichorek is still on the hunt like any good lead dog would be for more top notch players. "A lot of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 final camps are upon us in late July and early August and a great opportunity to bring in some more players that may be on the bubble to move up a level and may just need a good year of coaching and learning to make that step next year." It is imperative that I bring in good players and quality people to ensure a very good season this year. This may seem like a bold statement, but I will stand by it. I believe we will be the team to beat this season in the AWHL and the recruiting process as long and as hectic it can be at times, will help make that possible. Putting a good product on the ice and good, well meaning young men in the community is essential to bring this franchise back to the prominent level it once was. I believe I have a very good start in doing that with kids from all over the country.
I also believe that some of the players from last year will be integral parts of the team this season. Steven Nisbet, who was third on the team last season in scoring has ambitions of playing college hockey in the future. He is one of the returning players that has his best hockey ahead of him yet in his career. He has been working out very hard this summer as well as attending several camps to get his name out there for the future.
Other local players looking to make an impact on the team and for themselves are John Benevides of Houston, Texas. John is a big forward that can use his body to screen goalies ad score some goals this season. Tyler Ellson of Warroad, Minnesota and Trent Carter of North Carolina will be looked upon to help make and keep the Icedogs successful.
One player that intrigues me a bit that is returning is Tristen Franzen. He has the right attitude and seems pretty feisty and unafraid for a smaller player and you have to like that in any player. Johan Franzen is the big winger for the Detroit Red Wings is known as the mule, so we will have to call Tristen the little Mule."
The start of the 2013-14 season is only a month away and we are preparing for a good final camp to trim our roster to 25 or 26 players for the opening day roster. The Icedogs will be in Helena for the final camp on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of August. The 23rd will be registration and the 'Dogs will be on the ice two times on Saturday and Sunday. Players will be selected after the final skate on Sunday to return for the official start of the season on September 2nd.
This is going to be an exciting time for Bozeman and the Icedogs in the next couple of months leading up to the start of the season. We will be out in the community at our sponsors places of business to sign autographs. The team members will also be volunteering and helping out quite often this year. We will also be in schools and at the rink helping the teams of BAHA. And we'll also be having some family nights during select games this season.
If you are a business out there that would like to participate as a sponsor in our programs and on the dasher boards in the arena please feel free to get a hold of us and we can help make that happen.
We are also looking for those families that would like to house a player for the season we would love to have you step up as well. Billets get a chance to have a player become part of their family, and that family becomes a closer part of the team.
We are not far away to the start of the season and we want to have a packed house from day one! We are moving in the right direction. Come and see the Icedogs for the first time and if you are a hockey veteran we will see you at the rink.