NA Now: Chippewa Steel
The NA Now series features a look at all teams in the NAHL for the 2020-21 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team and will include video segments with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Head Coach: Carter Foguth (2nd Year)
2019-20 record: 51 GP, 29-18-4, 62 pts. (2nd in the Midwest Division)
2019-20 leading scorer: Connor Szmul (48 points)
2020-21 Division: Midwest
The 2019-20 season was a positive one for the Chippewa Steel, who turned themselves into a division contender under first-year head coach Carter Foguth.
Thanks to a largely experienced and veteran group, the Steel got off to a great start in September and October, which included a season-high eight-game winning streak, which put them in 1st place in the Midwest Division. By the time March rolled around, the Steel had settled into 2nd place in the division and were primed for the playoffs before the season was canceled.
“I felt bad for the players when the season ended because they did everything we asked of them all year long. We had great leadership in the lockerroom and I think we earned a lot of respect among our opponents. For the most part, we didn’t take a night off and I really like the way we consistently competed,” said Foguth. “I think our veteran players made a huge impact on the ice and in the community and it gives us a certain satisfaction that they are going to leave us as better men.”
The Steel had 10 NCAA commitments during the 2019-20 season, which included six NCAA Division 1 commitments. A large number of those commitments were to players who make an impact offensively, as the Steel were 11th in scoring last season in the NAHL with 3.35 goals per game.
Some of those moving onto the NCAA include the Steel’s top two scorers from last season in Connor Szmul (Long Island University) and Jacob Dirks (Ferris State).
“For me, I am very proud of every single commitment. It is a credit to the players, who have put in the work on and off the ice. It is priority number one for our organization and why I got into coaching,” said Foguth. “A big part of my job and the job of our assistants is putting our players in a position to get recruited.”
So, as the Steel transition into the 2020-21 season, there was a premium on replacing some of the offensive firepower that was lost.
“We are specifically looking to replace some of our scoring because we lost some high-end guys and firepower, so that was our focus as we were building this summer,” said Foguth.
As for what the team is currently planning for as the season begins, Foguth said the team is monitoring the coronavirus pandemic to see how it will impact the start of the season. The Midwest Division will be as competitive as ever and the Steel will want to build upon their good season from 2019-20.
Foguth will also the benefit of working with two new assistant coaches this season as Charley Grasskamp and Logan Murphy were hired for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
“Our training camp this season is going to be very important because we are going to have a clean slate when guys come to town. I want to see who has put in the work over the summer and how they stack up against the rest of the guys,” said Foguth. “It promotes healthy competition among our players and shows us who is ready to compete.”
“We want to take the next step as an organization and try and win our division and have playoff success. We have some momentum built up from last year, so I think we have to capitalize on that and make sure we take a step forward.”
Next up: Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks