ONALASKA — If the Coulee Region Chill can ever solve what interim coach A.J. Degenhardt calls the “mystery” of inconsistent scoring, they could be dangerous.
For now, the Chill are just frustrated.
Coulee Region had a half-dozen superb scoring chances lined up Friday night but came away with a 3-1 loss to the Brookings Blizzard in front of 532 people at the OmniCenter.
Brookings goaltender Chase Wilson, making his first start for the team after being acquired from Alexandria (NA3HL) on Monday, made 29 saves.
“We had a lot of good opportunities and missed,” Degenhardt said. “One goal isn’t going to win you very many games. It’s not always about the the pretty or perfect goals; we’re working on simplifying and putting pucks on net and crashing the net and making good things happen.”
Wilson practiced with Brookings for the first time on Tuesday. Drew Weigman, the team’s No. 1 goalie, was scheduled to start against the Chill but came down with flu-like symptoms a few hours before the game, and Blizzard coach Cory Laylin called on Wilson.
“You always prepare like you are going to play,” Wilson said. “I was super-nervous, but sometimes it’s easier because you’re not thinking too much and you just go do what you can do.”
Brookings gave Wilson a 2-o lead in the first period.
Evan Hesse made it 1-0 with an unassisted power-play goal, getting a shot through traffic and past Blake Cates (30 saves) at 6:51.
Eric Brenk, planted in front of Cates, re-directed a shot from defenseman Jordan Stejskal at 11:27.
Late in the period, Coulee Region leading scorer Mac Jansen broke in on Wilson and fired a shot that hit the left post.
It was the first of a series of near-misses for the Chill in the game. In the second period, Cam Bleck fired wide on a 2-on-1. Two minutes later, Wilson made a shoulder save on Andy Faust.
Coulee Region’s only goal came at 12:23 of the second, when Kevin Becker, who has two goals in four games since being acquired from Bismarck on Jan. 14.
But the the Chill couldn’t carry the momentum. On power plays later in the period, Brady Riesgraf had a clean look before Wilson cut down the angle. Then Bleck came free in the slot but shot high.
The Chill had a final chance to get a second goal past Wilson and tie the game in the third period when Brookings’ Matt Youso went off for a 5-minute penalty.
Coulee Region was looking at 4½ minutes of power play time, but it fizzled when it took a penalty of its own.
The Chill went 1-for-9 on the power play.
Bleck scored his second goal of the game at 13:47 to give the Blizzard a 3-1 lead.
“It was really tough; we had a lot of scoring chances,” Riesgraf said. “The shots were 33-30, but I think we had a lot better chances. We’ve just got to keep working hard and getting to the net. We can’t get down on it.”