GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Gamblers were turning a corner as the calendar turned to 2020.
But just weeks before a potential playoff run, the same thing happened to Green Bay’s USHL team as did the rest of the sports world – a screeching halt to the season due to COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the USHL went ahead with its 2020 Draft this week, a two-day event that saw Green Bay select 10 rounds of “Futures” players on Monday and 17 immediately eligible players on Tuesday.
For a squad that lost its top two goalkeepers, the need was clear.
“There was a clear hole that both our goalies were going into college, so that was a priority,” head coach Pat Mikesch said. “Matty Davis was the guy that we identified was our main priority, so he was just a target.
“We knew we had to do some recruiting on him, make him want Green Bay as much as we wanted him, and we were able to make that happen. He was excited to get the call today.”
In the USHL and other junior leagues, experience wins championships as many players spend just one or two years in the league before going off to college.
This season, Green Bay returns plenty from a roster that was just hitting its stride when the season was canceled.
“They were disappointed when they were all separated because they knew they were playing their best hockey of the year,” Mikesch said.
“We’ve got a lot of experience back and players that had successful seasons last year, we expect to have huge seasons this year. It’s going to be important for us to get the young players, the new players acclimated to the league as quickly as we can, just so that we’re not missing an opportunity to get off to a great start, which we should be positioned for.”
As of now, the 2020 season is expected to start on time – whether fans will be allowed at the Resch Center remains to be seen.