West Bend, WI – The West Bend Power are set to visit the Wisconsin Woodsmen for the first time this season for a solo road game on Saturday, Oct. 21 with puck drop at 7:30pm CST.
Weekend with Wausau
The Power halved this past series, winning one of two games against the Cyclones. West Bend won 4-3 on Oct. 13 but were blown away 7-0 the following evening. The Kundinger Power Player of the Weekend is Monte Goold who scored the game winning goal, his first in the NA3HL, with 26.5 seconds remaining in Oct. 13’s 4-3 win over Wausau.
After the emotional roller coaster of a dramatic win and heartbreaking loss, assistant coach Jeremy Ebert is focused on the present. “We’ve had a 5-0 start and then some tough losses, but that’s all behind us,” Ebert said. Although the forecheck has looked well at certain points, Ebert said that it was about staying grounded within their systems this week at practice. “We need to continue to trust the process, do the simple things well and work hard to get in the right areas to be successful.”
Across the Aisle
The Wisconsin Woodsmen changed a lot from last season. Under new ownership, they relocated and rebranded from the New Ulm Steel to Tomah in their current form. The Woodsmen also switched divisions from the west division as the New Ulm Steel to the central division as the Wisconsin Woodsmen. Last season, the now former Steel placed 5th in the west division, missing the playoffs with a 15-26-6 record tallying 36 points. Adding to this is a large number of new players making their debuts after many players aged out at the end of last season. With all the change comes great excitement in Tomah, specifically at the head coach position. Jon Vaillancourt is a veteran coach, having been a head coach/general manager with the now relocated NA3HL La Crosse Freeze/Coulee Region Chill from 2017-19. Following this, he was the head coach for the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness from 2019-21. Vaillancourt also knows how to keep players in shape, serving with the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals as an assistant conditioning coach from 2015-17.
Up front, the Woodsmen will be very physical yet productive. 2023-24 is Jack Laser’s third season with the New Ulm/Wisconsin franchise. Laser earned 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 44 games played last year, supplemented by 126 penalty minutes. One of two Latvian players in the NA3HL, Daniels Ratkevics has increased his output every season, while playing in three countries as of this season. Last season, Ratkevics notched 51 points (24 goals, 27 assists) in 24 games played with Shaftesbury High School in Winnipeg, an average of over two per game.
Defensive captain Nick O’Brien leads the way for Wisconsin on the back end. In 2022-23, O’Brien led his team with 28 assists. His prior leadership helps the Woodsmen, as he was named captain of his native White Bear Lake high school in Minnesota during the 2021-22 season. O’Brien will turn primarily to returners Charlie Kielty and Jackson Heim for support opposing any offense. Kielty is a defensive defenseman, contributing away from the puck last year while still accumulating 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) in 38 games played. Heim is a speedy player who holds a similar role on this Woodsmen roster as Kielty. The Rochester, MN native collected 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 36 games during 2022-23.
Goaltending will remain squarely under the direction of Dixon Ehlers for the 2023-24 season. Ehlers returns to the New Ulm/Wisconsin franchise for his second campaign. In 23 games played last season, Ehlers recorded a record of 7-10-3 a save percentage of 0.895 and a goals allowed average of 4.08. So far this year, Ehlers is 3-1 through four games with an 0.898 save percentage and 2.75 goals allowed average. The other half of the tandem is rookie Ryan Hacker. Hacker’s numbers last season with the Omaha Mastery 18U AAA were superb. Through 31 games played, Hacker posted a 19-10-2 record with a 0.915 save percentage and 2.61 goals allowed average. He has carried over this performance through four games this year having a 3-1 record, 0.941 save percentage and 1.40 goals allowed average.
Frank Zawrazky will return for the next Power home game against these same Woodsmen on Friday, Oct. 27, with puck drop at 7:30pm CST. October 27 is Halloween Costume Contest Night. All kids and adults get in free when wearing a costume and can be part of the contest during the first intermission. All games this season, including this weekend’s solo road contest, are streaming on www.nahltv.com. https://nahltv.com/