Depth still an issue for WDC icemen
Chris Holman begins his second full season as skipper for the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines with some old problems and new faces.
The Wolverines are still weak in numbers two years after a tornado ripped their home arena to shreds.
"We're only going to be able to skate two to two and a half lines," Holman said. "Our talent pool is really the size of a puddle."
Countering the lack of numbers will be up to the 14 players the Wolverines have ready. Since the Wolverines will not be able to rely on depth, Holman sees one other alternative.
"We'll just have to out-work them," Holman said.
Holman admits the size of the WDC squad may not send the competition running, but he believes their skill level will make them competitive in the Mid-State Conference.
All-conference pick Mitchell Swanson is back to give the Wolverines a strong scoring threat. The senior forward came up with 20 goals and 20 assists last year.
"While he is a prolific scorer, he also provides a great deal of leadership," Holman said.
Swanson is joined by all-conference senior linemate Bridger Pettit, who came up with 18 goals and 14 assists last year.
"He's a mucker and a grinder," Holman said in praising Pettit. "He's one of the reasons Mitchell has done so well."
Another senior forward on the team is Christian Berg. Holman said the tall skater sees the ice well and has good hands.
Seniors Mike Paavola and Jake Krause will be playing defense. Paavola has the kind of steadiness Holman prizes and Krause has excellent size.
Holman said senior Shane Motschenbacher may be the most improved player on WDC's squad. The forward/defenseman is showing more aggressiveness on the ice and has played his role.
The team has a senior goalie in Cory McManigle. Holman will be giving him time in the net along with junior Wesley Janson. The 2011-2012 season was a rough one for the pair and they have been receiving help from former WDC standout Tyler Muehler in finding ways to more effectively fill the net.
The Wolverines have a 6-4 Finnish foreign exchange student in forward Otto Asp. The junior skater has been playing hockey since he was 4 and commands attention just skating onto the ice.
"He's just such a presence when you see him," Holman said.
The Wolverines will also be playing a junior foreign exchange student from Germany - Finn Markmann. Holman wants to use him as a forward.
Sophomores on this year's club iuclude Blaine Cooper, Tyler Winkels and Gunnar Perlinger. Cooper has shown marked improvement, said Holman, and is skating with greater confidence. Holman plans to use him at a forward spot. Winkels is a mirror image of Cooper and will be used at forward or defenseman. Perlinger is a transfer from Eagle Bend who will play forward and has impressed Holman with his hard-nosed play.
A key player on this year's squad will be freshman forward/defenseman Dylan Phillips. It was Phillips who racked up four goals and five points in WDC's only victory last year, a 9-8 slugfest with Detroit Lakes.
"He's 'Mr. Wheels,'" Holman said. "He brings a component of speed to our team that we need."
The Wolverines will also be adding a talented freshman in forward/defenseman Mike Behl, son of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek Girls' Hockey Coach George Behl.
Holman does not see any clear favorite in the Mid-State Conference this year because of the graduation of some key seniors. The Wolverines want to find themselves somewhere in the mix.
"We know what we've got," Holman said of his 2012-2013 team. "It's just a matter of how we coach them up."