The Milwaukee Power were still making adjustments to their roster in the final days of the preseason when the coaching staff entrusted leadership of the squad to four North American 3 Hockey League veterans.
The leadership group made an immediate impact, getting the Power off to a strong start that it carried from the opening weekend through the end of September with a 7-0 record.
Captain Jake Berry and alternate captains Mason Evans, Ben Beversdorf and Caleb Beversdorf all were prominent in getting the team through its debut weekend Sept. 7-8 with a sweep of the Peoria Mustangs, one of the league’s most established franchises. That sweep was a sign of things to come for the Power, which took advantage of playing all its September games on home ice.
“Our guys had a tough task put in front of them this weekend having only been practicing together for the past week,” Power Vice President of Hockey Operations Chase Ernst said in a story on the team website.
Berry, a 19-year-old from the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield, assisted on the first goal in franchise history, scored three goals on the first weekend and solidified a defensive unit that was going through the most significant of the last-minute adjustments.
After rallying from two goals down to win the opener 4-3 on Sept. 7, the Power came back with a 6-3 victory the next night to extend the positive start while playing before combined crowds of more than 1,000.
Each of the captains credited Ernst with drawing them to the Power after the franchise was obtained and moved from Decatur, Alabama, where it competed as the Point Mallard Ducks last season. They also said they trusted the team was only going to get stronger as the roster continued to be molded.
Berry tied for fifth among NA3HL defenseman in scoring during the 2016-17 season with 46 points for the Texas Brahmas.
“It all happened to work out perfectly for me to be here with my hometown team,” said Berry.
Evans, who scored twice during the opening series, is a California-born forward who was the only Point Mallard Duck to follow the team to Wisconsin. He had 14 goals and 17 assists in 46 games last season.
He was pleased with what he saw from new teammates.
“I thought we were really good in our defensive zone,” he said. “We had a couple of lapses, but our guys were out there blocking shots.
“We have a lot of speed on this team, which really helped us against Peoria. We were able to get into the zone quickly and go to work.”
The Beversdorf twins, also from Wisconsin, got to return home to Hartland when they were traded from the Binghamton Junior Senators after training camp started.
Caleb had 52 points and Ben had 25 in the NA3HL last season.
Playing on opposite wings on the same line, Ben finished the first series with three goals and an assist while Caleb had one of each.
Ben Beversdorf scored the first goal for the new team on the power play early in the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit.
“It was definitely exciting when we scored that first goal,” he said. “It was pretty crazy to see the amount of fans we had there for our first game.”
Caleb Beversdorf also remarked on the excitement generated in the arena.
“Sweeping them for the first weekend of our inaugural season was pretty big for the whole town,” he said.
Since getting through the tough opening weekend, the Power has shown off an improving defense, holding four of the next five opponents to a single goal going into the team’s first road trip on the first weekend of October.
Berry leads the team in assists (eight) and points (10) through seven games.
Evans and Ben Beversdorf are among the players tied for third on the team with three goals, behind Maris Graudins, who has six, and Logan Geisness, who has four.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Lindsay Tendler.