SIJHL preseason preview: Thief River Falls Norskies



Release Date: Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016

SIJHL preseason preview: Thief River Falls Norskies

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – With their first exhibition game in the books and over 1,000 fans in attendance in that home contest, optimism abounds in Thief River Falls, Minn., as the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s franchise is less than a week away from making their regular season debut.

Despite a preseason setback vs. the Winkler Flyers (MJHL) last night, things remain positive for the Thief River Falls Norskies.

In the latest team preseason preview, we find the Norskies have been busily preparing for their SIJHL debut under the guidance of club president and former NHLer Tim Berglund, general manager Kevin McCallum and head coach Cole Workman.

The first-year franchise will make their regular season debut Friday as they pay a visit to the three-time defending SIJHL champion Fort Frances Lakers as part of an eight-game road schedule before they play their home opener at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls on Oct. 28 against the English River Miners.


Head Coach: Cole Workman (1st season)
GM: Kevin McCallum

Last season’s record: Did not play (Expansion franchise)

SIJHL: What can your fans expect to see from your club this season?

COLE WORKMAN: They can expect to see, very fast, and skilled hockey game. We want to bring a ton of energy to this league.

SIJHL: Who are some of the players you expect to lead your team this season?

CW: We have great leaders in our locker room with Keaton Huot, obviously being a 20-year-old and local kid. He’s played in this league before and was a good one at that. Ryan Buttazzoni is a 20-year-old Canadian goaltender who has a good amount of junior hockey under his belt, and really keeps the boys in line. Connor Rickabus, Austin Storm and Garrett Medina are also in their last year of Junior Hockey and have all played in different atmospheres, we expect all these young men to grab the younger guys and show them the way.

SIJHL: Who are some of the newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with?

CW: Jake Eischen (defenceman) from Hastings High School is a younger kid that will do well here for us.

Elias Thompson (Forward) is a young kid from Waupaca High School who I think has a ton of potential to do well in this league.

Connor Smith and Alec Daman (forwards) are two Michigan boys who had great success with their High School teams in Michigan.

SIJHL: What do you expect from all your players heading into the 2016-17 campaign?

CW: To compete every single night and finish in the top half of this league.

SIJHL: What is one feature you feel your club will provide this season?

CW: We want to bring a ton of energy and pace to our opponents.

SIJHL: What goals and expectations do you have heading into the start of the regular season and beyond?

CW: Our goal is to win our league and compete for the Dudley-Hewitt Cup. Our expectation is to one day have our club playing for an RBC title.

SIJHL: How has the off-season recruiting gone for so far?

CW: It’s been great; we had over 150 kid’s tryout this summer and around 1,500 kids have been contacted via phone/email.

SIJHL: How is the talk around town about the team’s upcoming debut in the SIJHL?

CW: Our town cannot be more excited for us to start, it’s almost overwhelming. What a great community we have.

SIJHL: What do you look to build on as you enter your first season in the SIJHL?

CW: Confidence. This is a league, like most, that if you jump on teams early you can accomplish a lot. We want to always be a little bit better than the day before.