Game Preview 7/15 vs. CHI

By: Jeph Novak

Wind Chill vs. Union Preview

After a huge 2-0 weekend where the Wind Chill beat the Madison Radicals and, more notably, the Indianapolis AlleyCats, just one more win is needed to secure the top playoff seed in the Central Division. The Minnesota Wind Chill are looking to waste no time in doing so as they face the Chicago Union, who have been a formidable opponent in recent seasons. 

In 2021 and 2022, the Union have been a thorn in the side of the Wind Chill, constantly slowing down their momentum and forcing them to be nearly perfect in all aspects of their game. Chicago’s hold percentage makes Minnesota’s defensive unit work overtime, giving up very few break opportunities. On the other side of the disc, the Union don’t let many deep looks fall into Wind Chill’s receivers’ hands. But Minnesota has changed the narrative this season, and with the ever-desirable first-place title within reach, the Wind Chill are hungry and poised for success on Saturday. 

The game won’t be easy by any means, but with a familiar home turf, a reinforced roster and a huge fan base on their side, the Wind Chill can keep their momentum going and take a significant win on the season. 

Home Field Advantage

In the previous two matchups between the Union and Wind Chill this season, the home team has come out on top. That bodes well for the home town Chill as they look to defend their turf not only for this game but potentially for the Championship Division crown, as well. 

The team has begun to find their rhythm on offense, completing throws at a high rate of accuracy and holding the disc when it matters most. This is going to be especially important against the Union on Saturday, as they are a tough team to break, meaning offensive holds will become increasingly important, and the Wind Chill defense will need to choose their opportunities wisely and take advantage of even the slightest Chicago miscues. 

Luckily for the Chill, they have actually found more success at home in just about every offensive category. They are completing more passes, holding more offensive points and even completing hucks at a higher success rate at Sea Foam Stadium than on the road. For a team who has seen some inconsistency on their offense this season, that provides some hope and opportunity to the Wind Chill. 

Last week against the AlleyCats, Minnesota found a way to tame the external forces of nature and manipulate the disc around defenders, showing up with an incredibly strong outing on all sides of the disc. Paired with one of the largest home crowds in the last few seasons and the Wind Chill were able to walk their way into a win against the AlleyCats. The team is hoping to replicate this success and see another huge turnout as they take on the Union

No Cracks in the Foundation

It is no secret that the Wind Chill’s depth has been incredibly strong this season. They have had some key breakout performances from players who needed to fill in for missing starters, and it has paid off big time. As the team continues to piece together a full roster, they’ll have some notable names back on the field ready to go for Saturday. Abe Coffin, Will Brandt and Cameron Lacy each put up notable performances in Minnesota’s double header weekend against Madison and Indy, though they are all out for the Chicago game. 

But Minnesota has faced this problem before this season, and has seen a lot of success despite notable absences. 

Paul “PK” Krenik is returning from England where he competed in the U24 Worlds Championship, taking home the gold in the Mixed Division. PK has only played two games with the Chill this season, but he has historically made a big difference in not only the talent and makeup of the team, but the pure energy on the field. He’ll be ready to go deep into the end zone on Saturday night; someone may want to warn the Union now. 

Tristan Van de Moortele may get the nod as a supplemental handler on both sides of the disc this weekend. With Abe Coffin and Will Brandt out, Josh Klane will need some support in the backfield. Van de Moortele has had an incredible 2023 season, with 18 assists and 13 goals in nearly the same amount of games played as 2022 to this point. His ability to be flexed to offense or defense as needed has proven valuable to the Wind Chill, and it would make a lot of sense to see his talents used a lot on the team’s O-line this weekend. Of course, don’t be surprised to see him just about anywhere on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, the Union are also bringing a modified roster, without Paul Arters, Nate Goff and Andrew Sjogren. Each of these players have played a big role in the Union’s success this season, and it may open up a weakness big enough for the Wind Chill to find themselves a comfortable win at home, which would be refreshing given their recent, hard-fought games against the Union.

If Minnesota can seal up any gaps in their offense while continuing to apply the defensive pressure that they have become known for, then they’ll find themselves ahead in no time. 

The Final Playoff Push

The Wind Chill aren’t satisfied with making it into the playoffs. They have their eyes set on the #1 seed, the Central Division title and of course, becoming AUDL Champions. Minnesota has a strong roster this season, and every win has been a true team win — just as every loss has been a team loss, as captain Colin Berry noted. Players have stepped up in big moments, helping not just bridge roster gaps but making a case for their own well-deserved recognition. 

Each game going forward will become — if not literally, then mentally — a must-win for Minnesota. While they only need one win to secure that home playoff game, there is no reason to step off the gas at any point and leave any openings for any other team. This end-of-season push is the Wind Chill’s for the taking. They control their destiny, and that destiny starts on Saturday. Game by game, the Wind Chill will look to etch another “W” into their record and propel that much closer to Championship Weekend in Eagan. They may even subdivide these wins further, winning every quarter in order to sustain their momentum, conserve their energy and refine their gameplay that will be increasingly important against tough opponents from this point forward. 

Join the Wind Chill on Saturday night and dress up to show your support and pack the stands. Sea Foam Stadium is one of the best stadiums in the AUDL when everyone shows up with energy and excitement. Get your tickets today!