3View: Badlands Sabres | North American Tier III Hockey League | NA3HL
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3View: Badlands Sabres

August 23, 2023

The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2023-24 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 2023-24 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 2022-23 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.

Badlands Sabres

Head Coach: Brooks Mitzel (1st season)

2022-23 Record: 47 GP, 11-31-5, 27 points (8th in Frontier Division)

2022-23 Leading Scorer: Carter Johnson, Zach Vockler, AJ Petrotto (22 points)

2023 Playoffs: Did not qualify

2023-24 Division: Frontier Division

As the dust has settled on the 2022-23 season, the Badlands Sabres prepare to change the script for the upcoming year. Although the season didn’t go as planned, finishing 11-31-5 and at the bottom of the Frontier Division, the struggles of this past season haven’t deterred the Sabres, or new head coach Brooks Mitzel. Rather, they served as valuable lessons as he still had plenty of positives to take away from the year before.

“One of the main focal points of the off-season was to bring in quality hockey players and quality young men to represent our organization. With a good group of returners coming back, adding some more depth to the lineup will help us be more competitive. The goal for the year is to return to the Fraser Cup playoffs, but we will be building on successes day by day to help us get to where we want to be,” said Mitzel.

Badlands made the Fraser Cup Playoffs in their inaugural season back in 2021-22.

Prior to being hired as head coach, Mitzel was on the bench for Badlands as an assistant this past year and had some experience in NA3HL himself with the Gillette Wild for two seasons. From there he attended Salem State and played a year with their NCAA Division III team. After, he transferred to Iowa State where he would play his remaining three years with the school's ACHA team.

Despite the nucleus of returning players coming back for the upcoming season, there will be a lot of eyes on rookie defenseman, Josh Behrends, who was taken 5th overall by Badlands in the 2023 NA3HL Draft.

“Josh is coming to us from Albert Lea, Minnesota where he had a very successful high school career. Josh has a great hockey mind and will be a key piece to our defensive core throughout the season. I am very excited to see what he can accomplish throughout the year,” said Mitzel.

Central to Coach Mitzel’s strategy is obviously the aspiration to return to the Fraser Cup Playoffs, a goal that resonates with all the players and coaches. The significance of "building on successes day by day" stresses the team's intent to approach each game the same and strive for victory while acknowledging the journey itself is just as important as the destination. Part of being able to build on these successes is having a core of guys that are all on the same page, which Mitzel believes is instrumental in creating a winning environment.

“I learned that creating the right culture in the room is crucial. Creating an atmosphere where players are engaged, willing to put the work in, and respect each other will help us achieve the goals that we have for the season.”

Badlands aims to begin their third season on a positive note against division rivals, the Bozeman Ice Dogs, in their home opener, providing the Sabres with an opportunity to start the year with a victory.

Next Up: Bozeman Icedogs

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