from left to right Kegan Couture, Ryan Erickson, and Gunnar Mogck trying out for the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the NAHL
Joining the NA3HL helped get an opportunity to tender and draft players now. In the AWHL teams didn't have that option. Second year Head coach Mark Vichorek had these thoughts about this years draft and tendered players. "I think we got some very good players in the draft and we tendered some more great players. I traveled quite a bit to showcases and camps looking for these players and I feel I did a good job taking players that will help turn the Icedogs into one of the teams to beat in the Frontier Division of the NA3HL."
Coach Vichorek continued on to talk about some of the players that he was able to obtain that will help the team reach new heights next season. "We had 8 tenders and 15 draft picks this preseason and got some very good players to potentially come and play for the Icedogs. Players like Kevin Steffey, Dalton Rickard, Colton Anderson and Brock Lozer will have a big impact right away for us in the lineup this season and we may not have gotten some of these guys without a draft or tenders."
Several other players are are also expected to be big impacts this year. Quinn Thibeault, Thomas Benedict and Cole Nienstedt will be playing right away to help further shore up last year's much improved team. "These kids coming in will be huge this year and will make the team so much better. We are going to be pretty potent on the offensive side this year. I am truly excited because we got some very good players and even more importantly quality people that will help compliment the returning and new veteran players coming in" said Vichorek.
With the team's leading scorer and the league's "Rookie of the Year" Gunnar Mogck returning with his line mates Kegan Couture and Ryan Erickson the team starts on a very good note offensively. When a team returns 141 points from lasts year's team from 3 players and then add third year player Steven Nisbet to the mix and the Icedogs are in a very good position to put up some big numbers. These guys led the team on and off the ice this last year and with a better supporting cast this year they should be some of the best players in the entire league and have a chance to move up during the year to the NAHL or USHL.
The outlook is also good this year starting on the backside with a very tough competition in goal. Matt Allen played in the National tournament last year and is a veteran that can steal some games this season. Michael Barabash of Calgary, Alberta is another goalie that has some colleges looking at him already in his young career. Sal Lauretta and Tyler Hawk are also going to vie for the top spot and one of the top 3 spots on the team.
"For any team it is nice to have a competition for a position so important to success of a team. Having these quality guys competing for starting goaltending duties it helps with the confidence of the entire team. We need players that can help steal a game or two for us when a game is tight and when the rest of the team has confidence that they can do so it makes everyone more relaxed", Vichorek says.
Other players returning that will continue to play quality minutes and have impact this year are Jake Nicks and Cole "Cowboy" Blatter, Jake Nelson and Jason Demczak. Kenny Meyers and Nate Luznar-Purdy will also be working hard for spots on this year's roster.
Some new veterans will be joining the team are Tyler Sands and Michael Stanislawski on defense. Sands has three years experience in junior hockey while Stanislawski has two under his belt. Coach Vichorek says from the goal on out, defense was the area most he most wanted to improve and it appears they have done that.
This is going to be an exciting year for the Icedogs and here is a preview of who and what to expect this season. Be prepared to see a new team and outlook in the NA3HL because it should be a blast.