3View: Gillette Wild
August 25, 2018
The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2018-19 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2018-19 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2017-18 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
2017-18 Record: 21-21-5, 47 pts. (4th in the Frontier Division)
2018 Playoffs: Lost to the Yellowstone Quake in the Frontier Division Semi-Finals, 2 games to 0
Head Coach: Steve Kruk
2018-19 Division: Frontier
Four consecutive playoff berths in the last four seasons mark and impressive display of regular season consistency, but the Gillette Wild have not had the same success in postseason play. Each of those campaigns have ended in the division semifinals, but a new face behind the bench will seek to guide the Wild to a longer stint in the playoffs.
Steve Kruk was announced as the new head coach of the Wild in March, and says that despite ultimately stumbling late, the early stages of last season provide plenty of learning opportunities to take into 2018-19.
“Looking at the team last season, we can take a lot from it. The team did not start off well (3-9) but managed to pull through as a unit and make another post season after a great second half of the season and getting back to .500. It teaches dedication, commitment, and a no quit mentality,” said Kruk.
Gillette has had few issues been a contender in the tough Frontier Division. But this season, Kruk thinks the time is right for the Wild to take the reins.
“I truly do believe that our division is up for grabs this season. We know we are no where close to achieving our goals just yet, but come March we plan to be contending for a division championship and having the opportunity to play the best teams across our league in Chicago in late March,” he said.
One reason Kruk has such strong faith in his squad this year is the influx of youth. The Wild head into the season with a number of fresh recruits looking to make their mark on the NA3HL and bring a jolt of energy to the team.
“I am most excited to see how the youth of our team responds to the everyday grind. We are going to have at least 15 players with a birth year of 2000 or younger so I am really excited to see the fresh energy and vibe that they bring,” he said.
The younger players joining the Wild will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of players like Brooks Mitzel and Derek Scoggins, a pair of 2017-18 All-Frontier Division Team nominees who will join teammate Jack Oberg at Salem State University this season. Gillette also boasts Nick Stockert (Aquinas College) and Hunter Feagins (Maryville University) who both committed to colleges this year, bringing their 2017-18 total to five former players having advanced.
“We are a platform for player development and player advancement. We do not want to be a long term destination from players,” said Kruk, “It only makes our program look that much more appealing to see every NAHL and college commitment we have.”
Next up in the 3View series: Granite City Lumberjacks