The Coulee Region Chill, it seems, are not afraid of heights.
The Chill peppered the tall man, 6-foot-9 goalie Benjamin Beck, who towered in goal for the Brookings Blizzard Friday night at Green Island Ice Arena.
Beck, an agile and athletic goalie, was able to stop 40 of 44 shots, but he couldn’t stop the Chill’s Nick Bowman, the third Coulee Region skater to fire away at him in a crazy game that ended in a shootout.
With Brookings and the Coulee Region each scoring in the shootout, it came down to the third skater, Bowman, a 6-foot, 190-pound forward from Shelby Township, Mich., and he delivered the game winner as the Chill recorded a 5-4 victory.
“I meant to do something completely different, but the ice is bad, so I didn’t want to over stick handle it,” Bowman said. “I saw the five hole, but it went under his arm and in. I was trying to do something much cooler, but it didn’t work.
“I will get ripped for it, but a goal is a goal for me.”
Scoring is all that mattered to Bowman and his Chill teammates, who mobbed him on the ice after the dramatic win. A win in which Jackson Decker, then Bowman, each scored in the shootout to give Coulee Region its third victory of the season before a crowd estimate at 350.
It was the third win in the last five games for the Chill (3-7-1-1), who were winless in their first five games to start the season, but have bounced back.
“I was proud of our club, at home, Friday night, I thought we outplayed a pretty good team, a team that is the top of their division,” said Chill coach Ryan Egan, whose team has won two straight for the first time this season.
“We are kind of streaky and have to find a way to be more consistent. We found our way to dig ourselves the holes we dug ourselves into. Like I told the guys, it was a gutsy win. We went up, then went down, we went up, then found a way to tie, then we found a way through an overtime and win in a shootout. That is a gutsy win.”
While the Chill received goals from Coulee Region prep products Marshal Plunkett and Tyler Ebner, it was another player, Chill goalie Emil Zetterquist, who came up big, too.
Zetterquist was especially strong in what proved to be — surprisingly — a scoreless third period. Zetterquist, of Stockholm, Sweden, turned away 33 of 37 shots, including two in the shootout.
The crowd, Zetterquist said, might not have been the biggest but it was loud.
“I love it when I have to go make those plays and I love it when the audience we got makes a lot of noise,” Zetterquist said. “It is a perfect atmosphere for me, so I just enjoy every second of that.
“The first shooter (in a shootout) is always very important. It is like the first shot in a game, as you have to get your confidence in. It is really important.”
The Chill failed to deal well with prosperity entering the second period, as Brookings tied the game at 2 when Andriy Dennyskin deflected Cameron Teamor’s blast at the 4:54 mark. It was a shot that handcuffed Zetterquist before sailing past him.
Zetterquist, however, was able to come up with two big saves midway through the second to keep a young Coulee Region team in the game. He couldn’t make up for big defensive lap — and some sloppy play — at the 10:55 mark, however, when the Chill failed to clear their own zone and Doug Larson scored his second goal of the game, making it 3-2 Brookings.
The Chill would retake the lead when Nick Bowman beat Beck, thanks to assists from Andrew McGlynn and Tomas Vochozka, at the 11:38 mark of the second.
Just over 2 minutes later, former Onalaska High School standout Jacob Dirks scored on a power-play goal to put the Chill up 4-3, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Just as the Chill seemed to be growing up before their eyes, Brookings’ Vince Marino reminded fans there will be growing pains, as he beat Zetterquist to capitalize on yet another 2-on-1 break.
The Chill, who entered Friday night’s game having beaten Janesville in their last game on Oct. 28, fell behind early when Brookings’ Larson capitalized on a power play when he beat Zetterquist at the 6:08 mark of the opening period.
Brookings, which seemed to have a first-period parking pass in the Chill zone for the first 10 minutes, had several other chances, but Zetterquist was up to the challenge.
Coulee Region, which didn’t muster much on its first power-play opportunity, certainly did on its second. Ebner took advance of a pretty pass from Connor Szmul to beat Beck with a point-blank shot to knot the game at 1-1 at the 16:12 mark of the first.
Plunkett then cocked and fired, almost unexpectedly, as he beat Beck from the right circle with a top-shelf, glove-side bullet at the 17:03 mark to give the Chill a 2-1 lead.
A lead they would take into the first intermission.