CHIPPEWA FALLS — The timing was perfect.
The Chippewa Steel were looking for an experienced defenseman and Menomonie native Chase Davidson was looking for another chance.
“It was perfect timing where I was getting ready to call him that day and he actually had called me that night,” Steel interim coach Carter Foguth said of the contact between him and Davidson. “It was a perfect timing thing and it worked out well.”
Davidson had been traded to the Steel from the Johnstown Tomahawks — who he spent all of last season with — just prior to the start of the 2018-19 season. Twelve days and just four games later he was released.
“Being released nobody obviously likes that,” Davidson said. “It was tough, one leaving Johnstown being traded where you’re used to all those guys and then you come here and the same thing happens pretty much.”
Davidson found a new home with the South Shore Kings located in Foxborough, Mass. The Kings are part of the National Collegiate Development Conference, a division of the United States Premier Hockey League.
After 17 games with the Kings, Davidson sought a return to Chippewa.
“The team out there wasn’t doing too hot and with the coaching change I thought there might be another opportunity,” Davidson said of why he reached out to Foguth.
On Dec. 21, 2018 he was added back onto the roster, something Foguth was eager to do. The team is light on experience and Davidson had already put forth a full season in the North American Hockey League a season ago.
“I liked him when we originally had him. That is part of the reason I brought him back,” Foguth said. “I knew what we were getting in him when we brought him back.”
Davidson has yet to register a point for the Steel in his first 12 games since his return, but that isn’t what the team is looking for from him. He is counted on to play strong defense and use his physicality to his advantage.
“He’s not someone you’re going to have out there and ask to put up 30-40 points (per season). He’s just a great kid, works hard,” Foguth said of Davidson. “He’s tough to play against and he’s got a lot of experience playing in the league. And that is kind of what we were lacking and that’s why I brought him back. He’s done everything that I expected of him since he’s been back.”
“I try to pride myself on a good plus-minus and making it tough for their top guys to make plays and ultimately score a goal,” Davidson said.
Not only did he make a return to the Steel, Davidson made a return to western Wisconsin. Playing a short distance from Menomonie, Davidson commutes for practice and games. Being in the area has allowed friends and family to be in attendance for home games, which Davidson said has been one of the best things about playing for the Steel this season.
“Family, friends, everybody gets to come to the games,” he said. “I see them up in the stands cheering me on, waiting for me after the game. It’s a lot of fun.”
The comfort of being home has allowed Davidson to grow comfortable both on the ice and with his future in hockey. Davidson said a number of teams have shown interest in having him join their college programs and he has narrowed down his options and expects to announce a decision relatively soon.
The Steel have also started to find a level of comfort this season. After back-to-back one goal victories over the Minnesota Wilderness this last weekend, Chippewa has won six of its past 10 games entering this weekend’s two-game series with the Janesville Jets.
Prior to this past weekend, the Steel were 3-12 in one-goal games. Foguth said all the time they have preached about paying attention to the details, might finally be working in Chippewa’s favor.
“I’ve tried to teach the guys to not cheat the game, we have to do all the little things in order to earn those bounces,” Foguth said. “Maybe we cheated those plays a few times prior and we got burned and they scored.
“Now we’re starting to do things the right way from our break outs to our forechecks to every little detail. Now they do things the right way, they add up and we’re starting to get those bounces.”
Janesville entered the weekend with a 4-2 advantage in the battle for the Blain’s Farm and Fleet American’s Dairyland Milk Can trophy with four games remaining. The two teams haven’t matched up since Nov. 10 and with just 18 games remaining on the schedule this season, the Steel have been showing the improvement they need to finish strong.
“Everybody is focusing on the details. That has really been one thing we’ve emphasized is the details,” Davidson said. “It’s been going well, everybody is buying in, doing the little things right and it’s paying off.”