The Green Bay Gamblers hosted their 6th Annual Military Night on Saturday, October 28 at the Resch Center. A season-high crowd of 4,363 was treated to a 5-4 win over the Sioux Falls Stampede. The highlight of the night was the contribution of $35,000 to the local chapter of Disabled American Veterans. The DAV will purchase a new transport vehicle with the funds.
For the past six-years the presenting sponsor of Military Night has been the Animal Referral Center. Since 2013, Military Night has raised $118,000, all of which has stayed right here in Northeast Wisconsin to assist our veterans. Proceeds are generated from 100% of helmet/jersey auction, sponsorship and ticket sales.
“Helping those locally is something we take great pride in,” says Gamblers Team President Brendan Bruss. “The local chapter of the DAV provides a much needed service to our local veterans and for us to have a positive impact on that program is something we are very proud of.”
In 2016 the local chapter of the DAV provided transportation for 39,197 veterans, logging over 885,000 miles.
With each goal scored on Saturday, 26 separate businesses and private citizens each donated $100.00 through the Goals for the Military promotion. The Gamblers responded with a season-high five goals, bringing the total to $13,000. Goals for the Military partners include:
ABT Foundations, Allegra Printing, Aurora BayCare, Belmark, Bruss Family, Buffalo Wild Wings, C and C Custom Builders, Certa Pro Painters, Conger Industries, Culver’s, D2, Dan Chambers, Disabled American Veterans, Jeff & Ginny Dowd, Drift Inn, Exhaust Pro’s, Fox Communities Credit Union, Green Bay Packers, Jewitt Family, Kaminski Dental, Menominee Casino Resort, Mid State Supply, Meijer Foods, Mikesch Family, Packerland Heating & Cooling, Dan Parsley, Pearly Gates, PMI Board of Directors, Pure Water Technology, Pizza Ranch, S & L Motors, School House, Screamin Head Buzz, Sound Check, SportClips, The Fan,Tom Vandersteen, Vietnam Veterans of America, Ken & Erika Wachter, Wild West Studios, WAPL, WFRV, WIXX, WZOR, Y-100 and Young Smiles Pediatric Dental.
Along with raising funds the Gamblers also honored the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Honorary captains included United States Army, Corporal Matt Kempainen, United States Marine Corps Corporal Deb Nooyen, United States Navy, Retired Chief Tom Beverly, United States Air Force Retired Master Sergeant Holly Hoppie and United States Coast Guard BM2 Dan Parsley.
Ceremonial puck drop included Lisa Peters of the Animal Referral Center, Former United States Army Sergeant and current WFRV reporter Steve Dent and United States Marine Corp Staff Sergeant
Jose C. Mendozavasquez.
Flag was presented at center ice by the Desert Veterans of Wisconsin. Colors were presented by the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 3 Military Honor Guard and the national anthem was performed by Retired Air Force Sergeant Mike Goodreau. In the first intermission the 132nd Army Band performed God Bless America. All current and former military was asked to stand and were saluted by both teams in the first period.
Check will be presented to the DAV on Wednesday (11/1).
By: Kelcee Kent (October 31, 2017)
For Appleton natives Trenton Bliss and Carver Watson the opportunity to play junior hockey so close to home is a surreal experience.
Bliss and Watson, both 19, started playing hockey together for the Jr. Gamblers AAA program. Their time together on the ice rink has led to an inseparable friendship and a mutual passion for the game of hockey.
Watson began his junior hockey career with the Madison Capitals in 2014 with his older brother Cooper. In his second season in the USHL, he was traded to the eventual Clark Cup Champion Tri-City Storm. In 2016-2017, Watson went north of the border, to play for the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. The 2017 USHL Entry Draft brought Watson back home, as he was selected by the hometown Gamblers.
“It means a lot for me to be able to be here” said Watson. “I grew up watching the Gamblers play, and it’s incredibly special to be a part of that now.”
Watson has made an impact on the Gamblers blue line, highlighted by an overtime goal against Dubuque on October 7.
“Carver is extremely excited to be back in the area,” says Gamblers head coach Pat Mikesch. “He has played a lot of junior hockey and his experience has been a welcome addition.”
Watson will be following in the footsteps of his older brothers Cliff and Cooper when he arrives at Michigan Tech. Cliff was a two-year captain with the Huskies and Cooper is in his freshman campaign at Tech.
“I had the opportunity to play with Cooper in Madison (Capitols), so I think it will be a really cool experience to play hockey alongside him at Michigan Tech” said Watson. “It’s really special to be able to follow in my brothers’ footsteps but have independent paths.”
Along with their collegiate choice the Watson brothers also share a solid hockey pedigree. Cliff, 23, was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 6th round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Cliff is in his first professional season, playing alongside fellow Appleton native CJ Eick with the Utah Grizzlies of the East Coast Hockey League. Cooper, 21 had junior stops in Madison and Vernon, British Columbia, before making the jump to the collegiate ranks. The youngest Watson, Caden, 16, is playing hockey in Tampa, Florida.
Bliss played his high school hockey at Appleton United. In 2016, Bliss led Appleton United to their first state hockey title in program history.
“After a tough year of falling short of the title, it was an incredible feeling being a senior, to bring home that title to our community” said Bliss.
In 2016, Bliss was also named “Mr. Hockey”, an honor given out each season to the most outstanding player in the state as voted upon by the WHCA (Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association).
“It was really unexpected,” said Bliss “I missed about eight games of the season due to a knee injury, so it was a surreal experience in addition to the state championship title.”
Bliss’s first year in juniors had him splitting time with the Gamblers and the Coulee Region Chill of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). This season Bliss has been a mainstay in the Gamblers line-up. Through seven games, Bliss is tied for the team lead in goals (3) and tied for second in points (5). Bliss has also been instrumental in the Gamblers penalty kill, which ranks 2nd in the league in efficiency (88.2%).
“It’s a credit to Trenton to see the major steps he has taken as a player,” says Mikesch. Last year, Trenton was a player fighting to get in the line-up. This year, he is an impact guy, who plays in all situations.”
Playing for his hometown junior team is also a humbling experience for Bliss.
“I grew up seeing guys like Grant Arnold and C.J. Eick succeeding with the Gamblers, and to now be in their place, so close to my home is unreal” said Bliss. “Especially being able to play in front of local youth players and my community.”
Bliss attributes his hockey success to his family.
“It’s also really special for me to be able to play in front of my Mom and Grandma. Looking back when I was younger, I took a lot for granted, but I’m so thankful for everything they’ve done for me, especially my Mom.”
Looking towards the future, Bliss who is currently uncommitted hopes to play hockey at the collegiate and professional levels. Given Bliss’s early season success a college commitment appears to be inevitable.
For Bliss and Watson, it is both nostalgic and humbling to have started their careers as Jr. Gamblers to now playing at the junior level, as Green Bay Gamblers. Where their hockey careers go from here is still up in the air, but given their passion for the game, hard work and support systems, the future looks very bright.
By: Kelcee Kent- Monday, October 23, 2017
Former players and first year assistant coaches Ryan Petersen and Grant Arnold have come full circle with the Green Bay Gamblers organization. With extensive and impressive hockey careers between them, the duo will now approach hockey from the other side of the bench as assistant coaches.
Petersen’s hockey career began when his dad and brother strapped skates on him when he was just three years old in his hometown of North St. Paul, Minnesota. With a family-love of hockey and Minnesota blood, Petersen’s hockey career was destined to be great.
Growing up continuing to play hockey, Petersen’s two best friends signed tenders with the Gamblers in 2002. In 2003, Petersen got the opportunity to come to Green Bay with his friends for a tryout. He would make the team and embark on a two-year career with the Gamblers (2003-2005). In his second season, he was named team captain and his hockey career would continue to advance.
“It was crazy to be a part of the Gamblers organization and to be able to experience that with my best friends” Petersen, 33, said about his time spent playing with the Gamblers. “The opportunity to play in the USHL and be a captain was a profound experience.”
In the fall of 2005, Petersen started his collegiate hockey career at St. Norbert College (De Pere, WI). During his four seasons as a Green Knight, he skated in 119 career games, tallying 34 goals and 39 assists. His 119 career games played, is tied for sixth all-time at St. Norbert College. During his junior and senior campaigns, he served as team captain (2007-08 and 2008-09). In his first season as captain, Petersen led the Green Knights’ first national championship team to the 2008 NCAA Division III title. Overall, he led the Green Knights to three NCHA regular season titles and two Peters Cups.
After his collegiate career and graduation in 2009, Petersen entered the role of assistant hockey coach at Lawrence University (Appleton, WI), for the 2009-2010 season.
“I always wanted the opportunity to coach, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen that quickly” Petersen said. “It was everything I wanted to do, but it just happened a lot quicker than I ever expected.”
After his initial season in the coaching field, Petersen took the opportunity to play overseas in Europe for the Turnhout (Belgium) White Caps. In his lone season, he scored 11 goals and 21 assists in 26 total games. Petersen returned as an assistant coach with Lawrence University in 2011. The following year, he returned to his alma mater, as an assistant coach with St. Norbert and remained there for three seasons. In the fall of 2015, the USHL’s Madison Capitols named Petersen the club’s newest assistant coach.
Making his way back to Green Bay, Petersen plans to implement coaching influences from his past including Mike Szkodzinski (current Lawrence University head hockey coach) and several others. With his time spent in Madison, Petersen also attributes some of his coaching influence to Troy Ward (former Madison Capitols head coach).
“He (Ward) really smoothed me out to get me to be the type of coach that is a good leader, which reminded me to be the type of leader my father was” said Petersen. “My Grandfather also coached high school basketball. Despite being a completely different sport, I learned a lot from his coaching style.”
While focused on the Gamblers and the season ahead, Petersen’s long-term coaching goal is to climb as high as hockey will allow him.
For Petersen, its nostalgic being back on the Gamblers bench. Comparing who he was then to who he is now, and all of the hockey and life experiences in-between, being able to play hockey and now coach hockey is a huge aspect of his life.
“At the end of the day it is important to stay true to yourself, and by helping, supporting, and bettering each other, you will get the most out of your players on and off the ice, and that’s what I’m looking to implement this season” Petersen said.
For Arnold, 26, hockey first peaked his interest while playing street hockey with the older neighborhood kids in the streets of his hometown of Centennial, Colorado. Being a kid that wanted to play any and every sport, his parents signed him up for a learn-to-skate camp around the age of five, and from there his passion for the game took shape.
“I grew up playing hockey, but by no means was I the greatest player on the team” said Arnold. “When I was younger I was cut from a few teams and that only fueled my drive to work harder.”
At age 17, it was evident that Arnold’s hard work was paying off as he was drafted by the Gamblers in 2009. Surprised by the intensity of the USHL, Arnold’s rookie season would prove to be triumphant. In 2009-2010, the Gamblers brought home the Anderson Cup. The team advanced to the Clark Cup final and under the guidance of head coach Jon Cooper, current head coach for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, the Gamblers went on to win game five in front of a sold out crowd at the Resch Center. Arnold served as an assistant captain during his second season (2010-2011) and as captain in his third season (2011-2012), where yet again the Gamblers raised the Clark Cup.
Toward the end of his junior hockey career, Arnold was not yet committed to a collegiate team. He eventually signed with the University of Denver, and had a notable four-year career (2012-2016) with the Pioneers. While back home in Denver, he and the Pioneers qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of his four seasons. Arnold served as team captain consecutively for his junior and senior seasons at Denver. He was just the third player in DU history to wear the “C” for consecutive seasons, an accomplishment that was last achieved over 60 years prior. Towards the end of his collegiate career, Arnold started to contemplate the next steps of his hockey career.
“I never thought it (hockey) would go as far as it did for me, but I knew that I loved being a leader from a young age, and by my junior year of college I knew that I didn’t want a desk job and that I wanted to be a hockey coach” said Arnold.
Arnold spent the 2016-2017 season playing with the Quad City Mallards of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). The season was successful as they reached their first 40-win season in Mallards franchise history. After one-year of professional hockey, Arnold decided to hang up the skates from the player perspective and used the summer to search for coaching positions. Arnold found and was offered several other assistant coaching positions, including an assistant coaching position with the Quad City Mallards, but turned it down when offered a position with the Gamblers.
“I loved the Gamblers organization and how they take care of everyone involved with their organization” said Arnold. “It was a part of my hockey past and I’m blessed for the opportunity to be back.”
The difference in roles was an adjustment, “At first it was a hard adjustment to go from playing to coaching, but I know that it is the best role for me, and have no regrets regarding that,” Arnold said.
It was also an emotional homecoming for Arnold, “Walking back into the Resch and the locker room brought back a lot of memories – the last time I was there we had just won the Clark Cup”.
Arnold hopes to implement coaching influences that he picked up over the course of his career. Moving forward as an assistant for the Gamblers, Arnold plans to focus on the culture, identity, and attitude of the team both on and off the ice. He also plans to use the lessons taught by his former coaches including Jon Cooper, Jim Montgomery (head coach at the University of Denver), Derek Lalonde (former Gamblers head coach currently serving as head coach of the AHL’s Iowa Wild), Brad Larsen (current assistant coach for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets) and Andrew Sherman (AAA Hockey coach in Colorado who served as a mentor both on and off the ice).
Looking towards the future, Arnold states he would love to go as far as his coaching career will allow him, and hopes one day to return to his home in Colorado. However, he strongly believes in living in the moment.
“Being a young coach is challenging, but I think it is important to live in the now. I cannot express how truly blessed I am to be back and how hungry we are as a team to bring back some banners.”
Likewise, the Gamblers are equally as blessed to have both Petersen and Arnold back in Green Bay.
The Green Bay Gamblers host the Sioux Falls Stampede Saturday, October 28th for the 6th annual Military Appreciation Night, presented by Animal Referral Center. Puck drop is 7:05pm at the Resch Center
The Green Bay Gamblers are pleased to unveil the team’s special edition camo jerseys and helmets (shown below), that will be worn during Military Appreciation Night October 28th at the Resch Center.
The game worn camo jerseys and helmets will be available for purchase through a live auction after the game (10/28). Proceeds from the jersey auction will benefit the Disabled American Veterans.
The Gamblers would like to thank the Animal Referral Center for their role in helping raise money for such a worthy cause.
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