The Oregon Ice Arena is undergoing ice maintenance this week, but soon it will be buzzing as the Oregon Tradesmen begin their training camp in September.
The Tradesmen, a Tier 3 junior hockey team, had a draft and have compiled a roster of talent. The team will play in the NA3HL’s Central Division and are owned by Madison Hockey Partners LLC, which is made up of Janesville Jets owner Bill McCoshen, Eric Petersen, Ben Cowan and Oregon High School boys’ hockey coach Larry Clemens.
The group is reviving a dormant NA3HL team, the Evansville (IN) Junior Thunderbolts, which folded after the 2018-19 season. Oregon Ice Arena previously housed the league’s Wisconsin Whalers, who moved to Wyoming in 2019.
A 2020-21 schedule is anticipated to be released Sept. 1. Host family homes are needed to provide a home away from home for players during the hockey season. Tradesmen players will also have opportunities to learn skilled trades in partnership with local unions as part of their off-ice development program.
Don Babineau will serve as the Tradesmens’ head coach. He was the coach and general manager of the Coulee Region Chill last season and previously coached the Euless (Texas) Stars. Clemens will be the goalie coach. He’s held the same position with Janesville since the team’s inception in 2009.
The Tradesmen will be the fourth Wisconsin-based team in the league’s Central Division, joining Coulee Region (La Crosse), the Milwaukee Power and Wausau RiverWolves. Oregon will also face the Peoria (Illinois) Mustangs, Rochester (Minnesota) Grizzlies and St. Louis (Missouri) Jr. Blues in divisional play.
The Tradesmen’s No. 1 pick in the NA3HL draft was Nate Mohr, a U18 All-Star forward with the Sioux Falls Power. Mohr then signed a contract with the Janesville Jets on May 4.
Oregon added forwards Alex Kem and Trace Norwell and defenseman Trevor Scherer in the draft.
Four former Wisconsin high school standouts have signed tenders with the Tradesmen – forwards Gunnar Schiffmann and Zane Van Zeeland and defensemen John Ratajczyk and Payton Stauffacher.
Oregon High School fans might recognize Stauffacher, a three-year captain for the Monroe co-op and second team all-Badger South Conference honoree in 2019-20.
Stauffacher was one of the top scoring defenseman in the state, with 18 goals while adding 24 assists in 2019-20 when he was named to the Badger South All-Conference second team.
Schiffmann helped Northland Pines to the Division 2 state championship game two months ago, racking up 66 points (15 goals, 51 assists) in 29 games for the Eagles. Van Zeeland, as a senior at Xavier High School in Appleton, led the Fox Cities Stars in points (27) and goals (18) last season.
Ratajczyk, a Whitefish Bay native, recorded 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 26 games for the WNS Storm last season.
All 12 of the Tradesmen’s signees have Coulee Region connections. The Tradesmen also tendered goaltender Ryan Gray – the all-time leader in wins, saves and shutouts at Eagle River High School in Alaska.
Parker Severson highlights a talented group of forwards. He racked up a team-high 66 points (33 goals, 33 assists) in 45 games last year.
The NA3HL, one of two USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III junior leagues, is planning to play its 11th season in 2020-21. More than 130 NA3HL players committed to continue their hockey careers at the collegiate level in 2019.