Chippewa Falls (WQOW) — The Chippewa Steel prepare for their second season in the NAHL, and local high school boys hockey players Joey Koller and Isaac Lindstrom are taking their shots of making the team.
Koller will be a senior at Eau Claire North next year, while Lindstrom will be a senior at Chippewa Falls. They both are dipping their toes in a higher level of hockey, after they each had electric season on the top lines of their respective teams. Koller was third for the Huskies in points with 50 total, while Lindstrom tallied a team-high 40 points for the Cardinals. It will be a competitive couple days at the Chippewa Area Ice Arena, and they’re both excited for the opportunity.
“It’s definitely a big jump from high school. It’s a lot faster, the guys are all bigger, everyone’s competing for a spot, and the tempo is a lot better,” says Lindstrom, who scored 17 goals for the Cardinals this past season. “It’s an awesome opportunity, and I’m happy to be here. I was getting older, so I was like why not go out there and give it a shot.”
“Yeah it’s pretty cool. Before last year we never had a team like this, and me and my buddies from hockey came and watched a couple games,” Koller, who scored 15 goals last season for the Huskies says. “It’s pretty good hockey. It’d be pretty cool to make it right now, but just playing for next year would also be cool.”
The Steel won 19 games in their inaugural season, as head coach Carter Foguth enters his first full season behind the bench. Foguth and his staff will see roughly 200 players total take the ice this week for scrimmages, including ten returners from last season. They have some holes to fill on their roster, especially at goalie with Joshua Langford departing for the USHL. Foguth knows he has a lot on his plate before the puck drops for the new season on September 13th.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” says Foguth. “If you look up in that press box that’s up there, you know there’s five or six of us up there. All the staff, we’re all evaluating different aspects of the game.”
Two of the players returning for Chippewa, are forwards Jacob Dirks (24 goals, 16 assists), and Ian Famulak (3 goals, 5 assists). They’re both confident heading into their second years of the NAHL, after being major contributors last season.
“It’s a very hard league to play in, you’ve got to play every single night,” says Dirks. “The learning curve of it, a lot of us it took a while to figure that out. But you just basically have to come ready to play every single night.”
“You know what your expectations are, and how the speed and physicality in this camp is going to be,” Famulak says. “Which it has been really good. I’ve played one game, and it’s been very good so far.”
The Steel will make the first round of cuts on Thursday afternoon, then the remaining players will take the ice for a pair of all-star games on Friday morning. The after a second round of cuts are made after those games, a final all-star game will be played in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at the Chippewa Area Ice Arena.