THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Set for their second season in the Superior International Junior Hockey League is the Thief River Falls Norskies.
Their inaugural campaign in the SIJHL in 2016-17 was an impressive one, both on and off the ice. As an expansion club they posted 30 victories in the regular season going nine games over .500 along the way.
A tremendous amount of support was also provided the team as they set numerous league attendance marks along the way. They boasted over 10 nights with 1,000-plus fans in attendance at Ralph Engelstad Arena, including a pair of SIJHL single-game record-setting crowds of 3,011 and 3,045 at The Ralph back in February.
Returning as head coach of the Norskies is Cole Workman whose efforts behind the bench with his squad earned him a finalist nod for SIJHL coach of the year laurels as well as a CCM Hockey second team all-star berth at that position.
Here’s a look at the sixth and final SIJHL team Q&A preview, which features the Thief River Falls Norskies.
SIJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2017-18 season?
COLE WORKMAN: The expectations are high this year for our team. We want to make a strong playoff push as we see ourselves punching a ticket to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup as a U.S.-based team competing in the SIJHL & CJHL.
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?
CW: So far we like what we’ve seen through training camp and exhibition. We have great team camaraderie and it’s exciting to see them come together, even with all the new players.
SIJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you expect big things from?
CW: All of our returnees are expected to play a vital role in creating something special this season here in Thief River Falls.
SIJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with early on?
CW: As a team, we obtained Brock Lefebvre (‘97) a goaltender from Kamloops, B.C. He will be a huge asset in net for us. He played last year for the Creston Valley Thundercats in the KIJHL. Defenceman Chris Pedersen is a ’98 D who is a big tough kid who will shut down the blue line for us. Johnny Bennis is a ‘98 F from Eau Claire, Wis. He brings speed and skill to our lineup up front. He played for Omaha AAA last season.
SIJHL: What style of play do you expect to instill into the club?
CW: As a team we want to play fast and physical, but most importantly we want to play as a more mature team now that we have a good group of returnees back for their second year.
SIJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?
CW: We want to play better on the road this year and more specifically clean-up our special teams. As most know, in any league I believe the games are won with the help of special teams. That’s where we want to focus on and we want teams to adjust to us.
SIJHL: What are your thoughts about the tremendous fan support you received in your first year?
CW: I can’t say enough about the way the town supports this program. On the streets, in the arena, this town loves Norskies Hockey and it’s always easier to play with a huge fan base behind you. They have proven over and over this is the State of Hockey.
SIJHL: What are you looking to build upon after last year’s solid first season and what goals do you have heading into the campaign?
CW: Last year was great for the players to see success in their first year and every player in our locker room feels like they have some unfinished business with something to prove. We aren’t going to change much. We are going to do better at doing all the little things that we didn’t do as a young inexperienced team last season. That to me has been the most exciting part; watching this team mature from last season.
NORSKIES’ ONLINE & SOCIAL MEDIA