THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Now with basically two full seasons under his belt as head coach and general manager of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s Minnesota Iron Rangers, Todd Kreibich, with a steadfast, workmanlike approach, looks for continued improvement with his club.
Running the Iron Rangers’ bench in 2016-17 before officially being tabbed as head coach and GM in Minnesota prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, Kreibich’s efforts aim at bringing the organization back to their highly competitive days, much like the 2014 SIJHL finals where they advanced all the way to Game 7 of the Bill Salonen Cup.
Now with their regular season opener less than a week away, here’s a look at the latest SIJHL team preseason preview, compiled by the league and its member clubs, which today features the Minnesota Iron Rangers.
SIJHL: What are your expectations for the Iron Rangers heading into the 2018-19 season?
TODD KREIBICH: Hard work and dedication. Every day we come to the rink it’s with the goal to become better men and better hockey players.
SIJHL: What have you seen from your team in training camp and preseason so far that has caught your eye?
T.K.: At this point every member here has shown that this is where they want to be. They are working hard, both on and off the ice, to develop their skills, at getting stronger and faster and preparing for the beginning of the season.
SIJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you expect big things from?
T.K.: Our returners have shown me early on that they have worked extremely hard in the off-season and are ready to prove themselves as hockey players capable of moving on to the collegiate level. Garrett Wojcicki is back and ready to lead our squad up front. He was a very-well rounded player for us last year and I expect that he will continue to improve and put himself in position to play NCAA college hockey next year. Aaron Koivunen is back and will be able to play both forward and defence giving us a player that can play on both ends of the ice. He will be very effective where ever we put him. With a year of experience in the SIJHL, Cam Birkeland has returned with a lot of confidence and is ready to be a leader on the blue line for us this season.
SIJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with early on?
T.K.: I have been very impressed with the addition of Lukas Lundgren up front. He played high school hockey last season with the KMMO Lasers in Wisconsin. Lukas is a very skilled and intelligent hockey player who I believe will be able to run the point on the power play and provide some scoring for the team. Zach Ash is another player that I am excited to have play with us this year. Not only on the ice, but also off the ice, Zach has shown that he is excited to be part of the Hoyt Lakes community.
SIJHL: What does it mean to the team and the Iron Rangers organization being selected as host of the SIJHL Showcase in January?
T.K.: We are very excited and look forward to hosting this years’ showcase in Hoyt Lakes. It will be nice to showcase all the players in the SIJHL to the Iron Range hockey fans. I have no doubt that our committee members will put on a great event and the fans will be able to enjoy some great hockey. I expect that we will draw great crowds and attract many college scouts to the Iron Range for the two-day event.
SIJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season and beyond?
T.K.: Obviously we would like to improve our win total over the last two seasons. But more importantly I would like to see every member of this year’s squad take advantage of the opportunities they have to improve their hockey skills and hockey knowledge and gain the experience that they need to move on to the next level of hockey. We have expanded the training opportunities for the development of our players by partnering with the Mesabi Family YMCA club giving the boys access to TRX classes, a first-class weight room and full-size pool to work out in. Along with weekly yoga classes and plenty of open ice to work on skills I expect our squad will be competing all season long and be ready to make a run for the Bill Salonen Cup.