Ryan Egan, the Coulee Region Chill’s second-year coach, knew he had to be patient.
Michelle Bryant, the NAHL Tier 2 team’s co-owner and general manager who handles the day-to-day business operations, knew there would be some early-season struggles.
Both had to be smiling late last Saturday night.
The Chill, who struggled through an 0-5 start, pushed their winning streak to three games with a 4-2 win over the Brookings Blizzard Saturday night. The Chill have won won four of their last six games, including a two-game sweep of the front-running Blizzard.
It was just a matter of time before the team started clicking, said Chill goalie Emil Zetterquist.
“We when started off at the showcase, we have a couple of rough games that we lost,” said Zetterquist, a 6-foot-1, 182-pound goalie from Stockholm, Sweden, who stopped 33 of 37 shots Friday night and entered Saturday night’s game with a 3-2-1 record.
“I mean, getting those two wins in a row really gets the confidence going.”
Zetterquist started strong in the first period of Friday night’s game, but had a few lapses in the second when Brookings erupted for three goals. In his defense, he didn’t have one at times, as the Chill had some mental lapses and sloppy play for brief moments.
Moments that cost them.
“After that offensive (minded) second period, I really felt like there was nothing to lose coming into the third,” said Zetterquist, who entered Saturday night’s game with a 2.37 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
“I just went into the locker room, thought to myself, talked to a couple of my boys, just tried to be as cool as possible coming into the third.”
There are going to be periods where the Chill clamp down and play well on defense, Egan said, and there are going to be parts where they struggle for a few minutes.
It is all part of the maturing process, he said.
“That is the beauty of the game. You are going to make some (opportunities) and you are going to get some in return,” Egan said. “Whoever takes advantage of the most opportunities ends up winning the game.
“I was happy with how we played in the third (period). We didn’t give them much. To this point, we had given up to many Grade-A (opportunities) late in the game. For us, we are still building confidence.
“We are still building a belief in ourselves that we can compete against the better teams in our league with the young group we have.”
BOWMAN STEPS UP: Nick Bowman, a forward from Shelby Township, Mich., who joined the Chill after the four-game showcase, tied Friday night’s game at 3-3 with a goal in the second period, then scored the game-winner in the shootout.
Bowman, who spent time in Sioux Falls, S.D., before joining Coulee Region, couldn’t be happier to be with the Chill.
“When I got here after the showcase, and I remember everyone saying that they were in games, one-goal games. We are not a 3-9 team, we are much better than that,” Bowman said. “We beat Janesville, they are first in the division. We beat Brookings, they are first (in the Midwest).
“We know once the wins start stacking up, we are going to come with all the momentum.”
PLUNKETT SHINES: Marshal Plunkett, a former standout for the West Salem/Bangor high school team before playing in the NAHL in Alaska, then returning to play for the Chill, had a big Friday night.
Plunkett finished with a goal an assist, giving him five goals and four assists on the season.
Plunkett entered Saturday night’s game with nine points, which left him in a four-way tie for second on the team in scoring.
EBNER COMES THROUGH: Tyler Ebner, a 6-1, 170-pound forward who played for Onalaska High School, scored his fourth goal of the season Friday night. Ebner, with four goals and five assists entering Saturday night’s game, was tied for second on the team in scoring.