Wind Chill Home Opener Preview

By: Jeph Novak

Sea Foam Stadium is expected to be packed with fans cheering for Minnesota professional ultimate this Saturday. The Wind Chill are teaming up with Minnesota’s women’s professional ultimate team, the Strike, in a first-ever double header taking place on May 20.

Coming off a hard-fought win against the Indianapolis AlleyCats, the Wind Chill are excited to bring their momentum back home for their home opener against the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds.

Containing the Thunder

The AlleyCats made the Wind Chill earn every single point. In fact, Minnesota quickly found themselves in a 0-4 deficit to start the game. Through tight defense and an aggressive offensive strategy, they were able to take the dub on the road and learn a few lessons for the rest of the season. 

Success against the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds is going to come in the form of an enduring defense without sacrificing their offensive prowess. This will be a delicate balance for the Chill, as they let the AlleyCats score four consecutive break points against them in their first game of the season. The team will need to bolster their offense in a way that doesn’t weaken their defense. 

Marco Dregni is confident that the Chill’s offense is ready for the matchup:

“Our offense is feeling good about working through [Pittsburgh’s] person-to-person defensive strategies,” said Dregni. “With such a big field, you have a real edge on offense when your defender doesn’t have help. Hopefully we can take advantage of that.”

On the other side of the disc, Minnesota will look to slow down their opponents’ offensive machine early on. Disrupting rhythm in the backfield as well as in the red zone will be key to creating defensive pressure, causing turnovers, and securing break points. 

No one player on Pittsburgh is making the team stand out early on. Instead, their chemistry as a unit has been clicking and they have been able to put pieces together in different situations to come away with two early-season wins. Those wins, however, have been against the Madison Radicals and Detroit Mechanix — two teams who have struggled in recent seasons. The Wind Chill on the other hand had to give every last ounce of talent and skill to beat a competitive team on the road. 

Minnesota only played Pittsburgh once last year, beating them 20-14 at home. Before that game, the two teams hadn’t played each other since 2019, where the Thunderbirds came out victorious. That season, they were one of the more competitive teams in the Central Division, but have since struggled to hold a winning record. Led by All-Star Max Sheppard, Jonathan Mast, and Anson Reppermund, the Thunderbirds find themselves with an opening to be competitive in the Division this season. 

When they travel to Minnesota on Saturday, they’ll be met with an ice-cold breeze from the Wind Chill and one of the biggest crowds expected in recent Wind Chill memory. 

Players to Watch

In their first game of the season, every player seemed to fill a role to push the team to a hard-fought win. The Chill’s handler set took advantage of some key swing passes and using the full width of the field to open up additional cutting lanes, which allowed cutters like Dregni and Colin Berry to get open more easily. 

The Wind Chill will look to continue this success and chemistry, continuing to center their lines around a few key players.

Marco Dregni had the game of their career against the AlleyCats, putting up a team-leading five goals, two assists, and 445 receiving yards. 

“Success came from keeping things simple, driving deep with my cuts and being ready to take what the defense wasn’t in position to cover,” they said. “Our handlers did a great job moving the disc horizontally and taking shots off of that momentum.” 

Dregni is looking forward to making their 2023 home debut and picking up right where they left off in week two. 

Brandon Matis will be making his season debut after returning from a lower body injury that kept him out of the season opener in Indianapolis. Matis is coming off of one of his best AUDL seasons yet and is looking forward to joining the team again and leading them to a Championship Weekend appearance in August. 

As a captain on the team, Matis sets an example on and off the field, constantly putting in work at the gym, as well as aggressively putting pressure on opposing offensive cutters. Brandon Matis brings a deep passion for the game and his team’s success, which can quickly become infectious and motivating. He seems to always play well in front of the home crowd, and this Saturday should be no different. 

Josh Klane is another player who loves playing at Sea Foam Stadium, consistently putting up impressive numbers in front of the home crowd. In 2022, Klane recorded 19 of his 27 season assists at home, with a total of 1,633 throwing yards. 

Against Indy in week two, Klane led the handler set in their deep game, setting a strong tone for the rest of the season. 

Join the Wind Chill for their 2023 Home Opener

Each game is going to be especially important for the Wind Chill this season. In a hyper-competitive Central Division, a single loss can be the difference earning a playoff spot at the end of July. The Wind Chill are taking it week by week, learning and adjusting as they go. They are gearing up for their home opener in what is expected to be an exciting day of ultimate, where they will join the Minnesota Strike in a double header. 

“I’m super excited that our game is a double header with the Minnesota Strike,” said Dregni. “They are such a talented team and it’s exciting to share the field with them!” 

The Minnesota Strike are currently 4-0 on the season, and invite you to join them in their last home game of the season on Saturday. Come support the Strike and Wind Chill and spend a day at Sea Foam Stadium. The atmosphere is like no other, with music, balloons, games, food trucks, and more. Plus, the first 1,000 fans will receive a Wind Chill rally towel courtesy of Active Insurance Solutions and Auto Owners Insurance!

Buy tickets today and get ready for a summer at Sea Foam!