PIT @ MIN 5/18 Preview

Written By: Ryan Baker, Journalist


The wait is over. The return to Sea Foam Stadium is finally upon the Minnesota Wind Chill and fans alike. The Wind Chill are set for their home opener for the 2024 season against the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds on May 18.

Yes, you read that right, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds. Just three weeks ago, the same matchup happened, but in the confines of the Thunderbirds’ home stadium. A game where Minnesota made quick work of them, 18-11. Playing a team twice in the span of three games can be an interesting task, let alone beating them twice can be a challenge.

“It’s a little bit strange. They’re going to come hungry, and may be a little frustrated with how they played at their home opener. I’m sure they are going to come more prepared with some footage, and a better understanding what we do. We got to be ready to make some adjustments to continue to be successful,” said head coach Ben Feldman.

Still without William Brandt, Dylan DeClerk, and Paul Krenik, the Wind Chill add Sam Berglund and Josh Klane to the names that won’t be in attendance for the home opener. However, there isn’t much worry from the coaching staff and players, due to the next man-up mentality that flows through this Minnesota team.

“We still feel really good about our roster. We showed last week that we got guys who are ready to step up and play. We feel really confident going into the game on Saturday. The guys are hungry and ready to get after it. I think the guys we put out on the field are going to be ready to help us get that first home victory,” said Feldman.

“We’re a confident group week in and week out, because of the film our coaches and captains prepare us with. As well as the overall trust we have in one another. When we are on our game, sticking to the game plan, we know we’re a very tough team to beat,” said Quinn Snider.

Pittsburgh is currently sitting at 0-2 with a point differential of -16. Meanwhile, the Wind Chill are 2-0 with a point differential of +9 after a two-point victory against the Chicago Union last week. There is an understanding from the players that the Thunderbirds are going to come with vengeance on their mind.

“We know they are going to come out hard and want to make a statement, especially after we took their home opener against them. Getting off to a good start, snuffing out any hope they have early, and playing consistent from start to finish will be key. Especially with the home crowd we are anticipating this weekend for the home opener. There’s going to be so much energy, and we’re going to do everything we can to send our fans home happy,” said Snider.

Looking back at the first matchup between the division rivals, Jordan Taylor played a key role in the Wind Chill’s win with a plus/minus of seven, along with two assists, four goals, and one block. There would be some thought of leaning on him again with the names that are out, but Taylor sees it more as trust between teammates rather than being leaned on.

“I don't really feel leaned on, more like supported and boosted. You feel powered-up by the trust from teammates, so it's an easy "yes" to take on more challenge. We're so deep, so when names are out, names step up and bring their strengths to that role. As for pressure, that's what this is all for; creating and putting ourselves into challenging scenarios. We want to be tested, see how we respond, and how well we prepared,” said Taylor.

This season marks Taylor’s sixth year suiting up in the blue and white, and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity placed in front of him year-in and year-out. 

“Playing in Minnesota means I am lucky enough to have my amazing and supportive family at games, which I am eternally grateful for. Also, especially for the handful of my teammates and I that have been at it for a while, it feels really good to be on the upswing, and to be contending for a championship," said Taylor.

Another story of gratitude and thankfulness comes from rookie Thomas Shope. Shope currently plays for a local Minnesota high school in the St. Louis Park Crush, and came out of his UFA debut in week one with three blocks. Being a kid that has been around the Wind Chill all of his life, it all comes full circle this Saturday.

“It’s super cool. It’s always been a dream of mine, but it’s pretty surreal that it’s actually happening now. I remember when I was a little kid in the stands taking pictures with Chilly and trying to get my frisbee signed, now maybe I’ll be signing some myself,” said Shope. I’m lucky that both Crush and the Wind Chill have been really flexible with me playing for both teams at the same time. I just hope I can make my teammates and coaches on Crush proud on Saturday!”

Staying within themselves and leaning on the crowd will be a big factor for the Wind Chill to notch another win under their belt. There will be a sense of profound appreciation, blissfulness, and relief in the air as Minnesota returns to their home stadium, in front of fans that have been nothing but supportive for a team that looks to return to championship weekend.

“We’re pretty stoked to play in front of the home crowd, and getting the fans back involved after such an amazing support at championship weekend. We’re just happy to get back in front of the home crowd after playing two away games to kick off the season,” said Feldman.

Starting off the season 3-0 would mean taking their home opener, along with spoiling two others, would the best way to start off the season for Feldman and company.

You can purchase tickets to the Wind Chill HOME OPENER this Saturday, May 18, at 6:00 p.m. CDT, by clicking here!