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Janesville Jets at Chippewa Steel 9-29-18

Dylan Moulton (14) skates with the puck against the Janesville Jets on September 29 at Chippewa Area Ice Arena.

Through the ups and downs of the Steel’s first season, defenseman Dylan Moulton has been consistent factor on the ice for Chippewa.

The 17-year-old quickly earned his place as a key member of the defensive group seeing a hefty amount of minutes since the first puck drop the season. He leads defensemen in points (13) and has played in 31 of the team’s 32 games this year.

“I’ve been very impressed with him since the get-go” Chippewa interim coach Carter Foguth said. “He’s been our most consistent guy in the back end.”

Moulton takes pride in his ability to be strong in all areas of his game. Which is why he has developed into a strong offensive player from his defenseman position.

“I like to say I’m a two-way defenseman, meaning I’m going to be in the (defensive) zone making defensive plays, blocking shots, helping our forwards get the puck out,” he said. “At the same time I like to say I got some offensive side to me. I’m poised up on the blue line making plays in the offensive zone to help us score.”

Moulton has picked up his offense lately as he has tallied four points in the month of December, including adding a point in each of the team’s last three weekend series.

Moulton was taken in the sixth round of the North American Hockey League draft earlier this year and he remains the highest selected individual still on the roster.

Moulton sees value in having been on the team from the start as it has allowed him to mature and take on more of a leadership role in locker room.

“We’ve definitely had our ups and downs this year,” Moulton said. “I think that has helped me grow from being here from the start. With the coaching change and everything it’s made me more mature as a hockey player. It’s really helps me help guys coming in from other teams help understand the culture we’ve built here.”

The Nashville native is one of four players from Tennessee — Braiden Dorfman, Camden Thiesing and David Sudbrink are the others — on the roster and Moulton said its been good to have some players he knows from his time playing youth hockey in the Nashville area on the team with him.

“I know it’s probably been better for them because when they get here — I’ve been here since the start — when they’ve been traded here it’s probably good for them that they know I’m here,” he said. “It’s easier to make friendships on the team.”

Moulton committed to Bowling Green State University in March of 2017, near the end of his sophomore year. Although he was young and still had upwards of three years of hockey before playing for Falcons, Moulton felt he connection with the coaching staff was enough to secure his commitment.

“It just felt like the right place for me and my family,” Moulton said. “We sat down and talked about me going there. It was an easy decision after I went on my visit.”

Moulton plans to play another year of junior hockey either in the NAHL or the Tier I United States Hockey League before heading to Bowling Green.

Reflecting on the first half

Following a home weekend series with the Fairbanks (Alaska) Ice Dogs on Friday and Saturday at Chippewa Area Ice Arena, the Steel will encounter the unofficial halfway point of their season. The team with take a week off before resuming action on Jan. 11 for a two-week stay in Alaska, with a weekend series against Kenai River, then a series with Fairbanks the following week.

Although the wins haven’t been there for the Steel (8-22-1-1) up to this point, Foguth has been impressed with positive attitude the team has kept. Foguth feels the players have handled adversity — including a change of coaches — well and keeping the right mindset giving them a chance to turn their season around.

“It’s a good group of guys that wants to get better and like I told them again, I’ve most impressed they show up and they do things the right way,” Foguth said, “and you can see it in the games where maybe we don’t win a game we probably should have but at least we’re going out there and we’re being competitive and we’re right there.”

During the first half of the season, Foguth felt the team was in many games it could have found a way to win. He said the team’s lack of consistency and allowing other teams to take advantage of the Steel’s mistakes were the difference in many of their losses. If the team improves upon small details Foguth said they can turn some of the losses into wins.

“If we can clean up the things we’re doing that help other teams we can probably get those games to turn in our favor rather than the other team’s favor,” Foguth said.

The week off will help the group get re-energized for another long stretch of hockey. Foguth said many forget that a number of players on the team are still teenagers and they haven’t seen their families since the season started. He is hoping that when the players return they are refreshed and ready to put together a strong second half.

“Sometimes it’s good to see the family, hit the reset button, relax a little bit, clear your mind and then come back and get back to work for the second half,” Foguth said.

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Chippewa Herald sports reporter

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