THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Set to enter his first full season behind the bench of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s Minnesota Iron Rangers, Todd Kreibich is looking to raise the bar on the ice with his club.
Officially earning the title as Minnesota’s head coach and general manager, Kreibich, along with new assistant coach Garrett Hendrickson, were busy over the off-season on the recruiting trail to help bolster the returnees to Iron Rangers’ line-up in Hoyt Lakes for the 2017-18 campaign.
Working closely with a dedicated core of executive members and off-ice volunteers, the entire Minnesota organization aims to improve their fortunes and get the team back to the higher end of the SIJHL standings.
Preseason play saw the club wins three times and four outings as Kreibich has begun his work toward instilling his system and style of play that he would like to see from to his charges.
Here’s a look at the fourth of six league preseason Q&A previews, which today features the Minnesota Iron Rangers.
SIJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2017-18 season?
TODD KREIBICH: The Iron Rangers expectations for the upcoming season are to put a competitive, quick, hardworking team on the ice every night. Our main goal is to get 1% better every day. This is the motto that our new assistant coach Garrett Hendrickson has brought to the squad this year.
SIJHL: What are your thoughts on what you’ve seen from the team so far and what do you expect to see throughout the season?
TK: This year’s squad has really bought into our focus on hard work, development and team work. Through our first few weeks they have showed that they have put last year behind us and really want to be a competitive team in the SIJHL this year. Our expectations are to continue to put players on the ice that want to work hard and get better so that by the end of the season we are a threat to advance in the playoffs.
SIJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you expect big things from?
TK: We are very excited for all the returning players that are coming back. They have all shown that they want to work hard and prove themselves this year. We expect Clayton Brown, Mark Sanchez and Eli Kinsman to lead the way up front with veteran defenseman Steven “Newie” Spencer to be the leader on the blue line this year. Their leadership on and off the ice will be very important moving forward and bringing this team together.
SIJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with early on?
TK: The newcomers we have right now are very exciting to watch on the ice. They are very fast and very skilled. They have stepped on the ice for us and shown they can play at this level. Joel Nagy from the Brantford 99ers in the GOHL and Zach Hayes who is making the jump from North Iowa in the NA3HL will make a huge impact up front. Bryce Litke, who played with the St Boniface Riels last season, will see a lot of ice time for us and we expect him to be able to play both ends of the ice effectively.
SIJHL: What style of play do you expect to instill into the club?
TK: We expect to be quick, skilled and hardworking this season. If we keep up the work ethic we have shown thus far not only will we continue to get 1% better every day we will be a competitive squad every time we hit the ice.
SIJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?
TK: As mentioned, we want to get 1% better every day.
SIJHL: How have things progressed since you were named head coach and GM of the Iron Rangers?
TK: We had a busy off-season with recruiting and making plans for the upcoming season. The hiring of Garrett Hendrickson has been a really important signing to me. I don’t see him as an assistant coach but rather as a co-coach. He relates well with the kids and they really like him. I see great things for him as a coach. With recruiting, where we talked with many kids in many areas we are very pleased with those that have put their trust in our coaching staff and the Iron Rangers organization. I believe it’s the kids here now who are going to help pave the way for more kids wanting to play Jr. A hockey here on the Iron Range.
SIJHL: Do you have any final thoughts heading into the year?
TK: I want to thank the Iron Rangers organization and everyone involved with the SIJHL for their support and help in getting this team headed in the right direction. I’m looking forward to seeing league expansion in the coming years and competitive hockey throughout every night.
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