FRIDAY, 12 AUGUST 2011 11:04
Tom Winkler, the Head Coach and General Manager of the Gillette Wild Junior Hockey Tier III team and Nick Adamek, the Assistant Coach, have been very busy traveling across the country as they continue to sign players for their inaugural season.
The Wild have now signed 19 players including 4 local athletes: Trent Dillinger, Brandon Miller, Taylor Lindeman and Tyler Johnson.
“I think it’s a pretty huge testament to what the youth hockey program has done here, and what the midget coach has done with his team,” explains Winkler. “He’s done a great job and obviously his players are prepared to move up to the next level.”
For the Gillette players who weren’t prepared to move up to the next level, Winkler says they will still be working closely with those kids.
“We’re going to try to get them involved through a taxi squad or a practice squad-type environment so they get to experience how we do things and what we’re about,” Winkler says. “We’re really trying to provide opportunities for the local kids, and quite frankly the local kids all showed very, very well at this camp.”
Besides adding local talent, Coach Winkler also added Taylor Cavan, whom Winkler believes will be the team’s captain.
“We saw him at the Chicago Hitmen camp with the North American League, and unfortunately for him, he was a player that kind of fell through their cracks,” Winkler notes. “But fortunately for us, he’s coming into a situation where he’s a top three caliber forward and he’s a power play guy. He also has a lot of leadership skills and the things that a young, new team is going to need.”
The Wild also signed a top defender in Ronnie Wilshusen from St. Louis. “Through some connections he decided to come out to camp and we were fortunate enough to get him signed, and he’s probably our top defenseman right now.”
With just a month remaining before the players are required to report for camp, Coach Winkler and Adamek will still be out on the road trying to round out the roster. Once camp opens it won’t be long before the Wild hit the road for a preseason tournament in Helena, MT.
With so many players coming from out of state, volunteers will be needed to house a few more of the incoming athletes. “We’re sitting at 12 houses already,” Winkler says. “We need probably about 6 to 7 more.”