Players report today for initial 2013-14 season meetings and will begin training camp tomorrow. The team will conduct four days of dryland training — which includes a regiment of conditioning, weight training and team meetings — before hitting the ice on Sept. 1.
"We stay pretty busy," said head coach Travis Winter, who noted that the delay between reporting date and the first practice on the ice has more to do with the time it takes to put the rink together following the recently completed Brown County Fair than anything else.
Workers began laying the first layers of ice and the area lines on Monday.
Winter has 28 players heading into camp, 11 of who were on the roster last season. Winter, who is beginning his first full season with the Wings, and the coaching staff will have to trim that number to 23 rostered players by Oct. 1, per North American Hockey League rules.
One of those returning players is goalie Chad Catt. Catt joined the team midway through last season and played in 15 games for the Wings, winning his last four appearances in the net.
Winter also pointed out defenseman Jake Horton as a guy that he and the team would look to for leadership on the ice. Horton scored 11 goals and had 19 assists last season and was third on the team in points with 30.
"We're excited to get the season going," said Winter. "It's a new group, so it's a fresh start for us and for everybody.
Despite that excitement, Winter is in no hurry to look too far down the schedule.
"We are a day-by-day operation," he said. "We want to be really good on Wednesday in our first dryland session. We're all about process. Take it one day at a time."
Along with a new look to the roster, the Wings will benefit from a 70-foot by 130-foot addition to the Odde Ice Center. The two-story addition will house a weight room, training room, new team locker room and lounge area and offices on the lower level. The upper deck will consist of seating suites.
"The community has supported the team really well," said Winter. "It's been growing every year. Hopefully, it keeps going that direction."
After enduring a 19-game losing skid midway through last season, the Wings won 15 of their last 19 games, including a 9-1 record in their final ten games of the season to finish with a 23-30-7 record.
Dates to know
Today: Team meeting.
Wednesday: Training camp opens.
Sunday: First on-ice practice.
Sept. 6-7: Exhibition games at Topeka, Kan., Roadrunners.
Sept. 13: Exhibition game at Brookings.
Sept. 14: Intra-squad scrimmage at 7:15 p.m. at the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen.
Sept. 18: First regular-season game, 4:45 p.m. vs. Janesville, Wis., Jets in Blaine, Minn.
Sept. 28: First home game, 7:15 p.m. vs. Brookings.
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