Welding a team together

Dec 5, 2019

Gillette Wild captain Ethan Becker was named the leader of the squad during the first weekend series of the season.

The second-year defenseman was tabbed early on as the one to wear the big C on his chest because of his lead-by-example style and the respect he has from his teammates. The Wild wrote down who they saw as a leader on the team before the season began and gave it to the coaching staff, and most wrote down Becker.

“He’s not necessarily the most vocal guy in the room, but ultimately he’ll say something when he needs to say it,” said Wild head coach Steve Kruk after the first series of the year. “He leads by example and goes about his business the right way.”


Becker was named captain after a season-opening 7-1 loss. The team went on a 10-game winning streak after.

“It’s kind of a thing where a lot of guys look up to you and it’s not always about what you say,” Becker said about leading. “I don’t say a lot. I just kind of shut my mouth and go to work and a lot of guys respect that.”

Later in the season, the Wild had their winning streak broken and dropped six in a row themselves. During the skid, the Wild added an assistant captain to the official leadership core: second-year defenseman Danny Ramos.

While Becker takes the quiet approach to leading, Ramos is a vocal counterpart.

“It’s not a thing where you abuse your power,” Ramos said. “If you’re out here yelling at the guys all day, telling them what they did wrong, they’re not going to look up to you, they’re not going to respect you. You go about it the right way, talk to them one-on-one.”

Becker, from Windom, Minnesota, and Ramos, from Las Vegas, are the top point scoring defensemen on the Wild. Ramos has notched six goals and 18 assists, while Becker has eight goals and 24 assists so far.

They are a natural leadership group for the Wild, because each work together on another team of sorts during the mornings before practice.

They both work as welders at BGM Buildings, constructing the steel framing for sheds, shops and many other types of buildings. They work for about five hours each Monday through Thursday before practice in the afternoons.

“It’s something that takes a lot of dedication and time, similar to hockey,” Becker said. “It’s a lot of muscle memory and trying to be consistent every time you do it.”

Ramos worked at BGM Buildings last season doing shop work, and he slowly worked his way into a welding position. Becker needed a job this season, had a little welding experience from high school shop class and BGM Buildings owner Bill Mercer had a need for another hand around the shop.

“Real dependable, good guys, no complaints about them, that’s for sure,” said Mercer, who has about 40 employees and three part-time workers. “They’re team workers. If they’re doing something over there, they’ll help the other guys bring in steel, cut steel.

“Not everyone can do the one piece of the building. It takes all those guys out there.”

Wild vs. Icedogs

Gillette (14-9) hosts NA3HL top-ranked Bozeman (21-2) this weekend at Spirit Hall Ice Arena in the teams’ second series of the season.

During the first series in Bozeman, the Wild took an early 2-0 lead in each game, and then let the Icedogs overtake them, and they dropped each game by a score of 5-3.

“The group is excited about it. They have two losses. It shows they can be beat,” Wild coach Taylor Shaw said. “In our opinion, it wasn’t them beating us. It was more of we beat ourselves.”

Head coach Steve Kruk was suspended for four games after he was ejected because of a verbal altercation with a referee during a game against the Yellowstone Quake on Nov. 23.

Wild leading scorer Declan Young left the team Monday to train with the North American Hockey League’s Bismarck Bobcats.

However, Young said he would be back this weekend to play for the Wild against the Icedogs.

Gillette ranks No. 4 in the Frontier Division, 10 points ahead of Yellowstone (8-14) and nine behind Sheridan (18-5).

Bozeman is led by forward Luke Hartge, who has tallied 21 goals and 32 assists in 21 games this season. Goalie Domagoj Troja has an 11-1 record and a 94% save percentage this year.

Sheridan defeated Bozeman 7-2 in Bozeman’s last game.