The Wisconsin Rampage welcomed back four defensemen this year, but they will be getting to know some very new teammates.
The veterans are Jamie Walsh, Shane Gottschalk, Anthony Castiglia and former forward Bret Vogt, switching back to the blue line this year.
Walsh, an import from New Brunswick, is a big man on the blue line at 6-feet-6-inches and scored 13 points in just 19 games.
â€œHe is an elite shutdown defender with offensive skills to make easy breakout passes. [He is] a force on the power play with his shot,â€ said Rampage head coach Mark St. Martin.
Gottschalk improved every day in his rookie year with the Rampage, one where he missed a number of games due to injury.
â€œHe is ready for a brand new season where he will be a returning veteran and will play solid defense,â€ said St. Martin.
The hard-hitting, young Castiglia â€œis still finding his game at the junior level.â€
â€œHis size allows him to give hard hits and play in all situations,â€ said St. Martin. â€œAnthony is looking to develop into an elite defensive defenseman and continue his career through the ranks of junior hockey.â€
The big-bodied Vogt paid his dues as a rookie and soaked everything up like a sponge.
â€œBret has been training very hard this summer and getting ready to make his switch to defense for the Rampage this year,â€ St. Martin said.
The team welcomes in five new defensemen. Michael Howard brings size (6-4) and a booming shot from a season in the North American Prospects Hockey League.
Rickey Salinas stands 6-6 and has taken quickly to the junior game. â€œHe is ready to be a key, all-around defenseman,â€ said St. Martin. Kyle Pfaffinger is another with a big frame, along with a â€œgreat work ethic and the drive to become an elite defenseman.â€
Nick Tylka joins from the Illiana Blackbirds as an â€œaggressive defenseman who loves to play the body and stick up for his teammates.â€
The three new goaltenders this year are Thomas Graham, John Paterno and Markus Wolk. Graham last played in the Northern Ontario Junior League, a â€™95 from Garson, Ont.
Paterno played at New Trier High School in Illinois. â€œHe is a stay-at-home goaltender who likes to fight off shots and is capable of making big-time saves,â€ said St. Martin.
Wolk comes in as a 17-year-old goalie out of AAA hockey who â€œtakes up a lot of room in the net and possesses a professional attitude on and off the ice.â€