ST PAUL, Minn. — Much like other Minnesota sports teams, the Minnesota Wind Chill have their own playoff woes, with the team still seeking the franchise's first-ever playoff victory. However, with the team's first home playoff game since 2017 and facing a division rival they swept in the regular season, the Wind Chill have a chance at making history this weekend.
On Saturday, Minnesota will host the Indianapolis AlleyCats at Sea Foam Stadium in the first round of the American Ultimate Disc League playoffs. The Wind Chill (9-3) beat Indy (6-6) twice in the regular season, which gives head coach Ben Feldman and several players reasons to be confident about their matchup.
"I'm confident, I think the team's confident, you know. That said, we haven't won a playoff game before so I think there's a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, we gotta get that monkey off our back, so regardless of, on paper, how good we feel or how well we've done so far this season, it's a big mountain for us to get over mentally," Feldman told KARE 11 Tuesday prior to practice.
From the head coach to the rookies on the team, the Wind Chill are feeling good about their matchup. Rookie Marty Adams said he doesn't have any nerves about his first playoff game, he's just excited to take the field.
"[I'm] pretty excited, confident. I mean, we have a great squad this year so definitely excited to go and give it a run" he said. "We come prepared, we watched a lot of film, we know what to expect from them, we played twice already. So I feel good about it, but we just got to go out and take care of business."
'We haven't won a playoff game before so I think there's a little bit of a chip on our shoulder'
While they may have beaten the AlleyCats twice, head coach Feldman says the Wind Chill still recognizes that Indy has the talent to challenge them.
"They, like I said, are a very strong top seven, they got some great athletes, players developing, but they competed with every team, in some way or fashion this year, competed with every team in their division in single point-digit games so they're going to come ready I'm sure, and motivated," Feldman said.
Feldman added that "they play indoors for the majority of the season so their top seven, their offense is pretty high powered."
Wind Chill veteran Brandon Matis explained that Indy's top players have strong chemistry from playing together for so many seasons, but Minnesota has a strong blend of players who came up through the local youth ranks and free agent signings.
Having played the AlleyCats twice already, Matis and the rest of the Wind Chill have an idea of what to expect and a plan on how they will capture the team's first-ever playoff win.
"Like we saw in that first home game against them, once they started to kind of wear down and we were able to get some turns and things tended to domino and kind of escalate from there. So we're hoping to bring that same defensive energy to a team that relies pretty heavily on five, six, seven guys," Matis explained.
With the team's first home playoff game since 2017, thanks in part to the expanded playoffs, Minnesota hopes to have a packed Sea Foam Stadium Saturday night.
'Every fan that we can add to the bleachers is going to be instrumental for us this weekend'
"We got some super fans, we're gonna have a lot of people being rowdy and loud but like the energy from the stands, you know, stopping the feet, the cheers, like it all impacts our team, the defensive chants [too]," he said.
Feldman, who is also the team's general manager and co-owner, added that they have a few "special things planned" for the fan experience.
Matis, who just reached 100 career games with Minnesota, told KARE 11 Tuesday that every fan can help push the team to a victory this weekend.
"It's gonna be huge the away team gets to sit by the fans in the beer garden and they get to be loud and obnoxious and it's hard to hear and you have people in your ear all game and any mistake you make is going to be amplified," Matis explained, "and so just having it, and it helps us too obviously, like that energy, especially as a defensive player like if the crowd is roaring, you really get into it and try a little bit harder I think even if it's subconsciously so it's like every fan that we can add to the bleachers is going to be instrumental for us this weekend."
For fellow veteran Bryan "B-Von" Vohnoutka, playing at home gives the Wind Chill the advantage with the fans but also the perks of not having to travel.
"It's a huge advantage, especially if the crowd gets into it. I mean, if your fans can hackle, be boisterous, be loud, it's not only difficult to provide information from the sideline, but it can also be a little bit nervy for players out there when they've got to go catch a disc and like a bunch of raucous noises happen and so, for us to be able to play at home is awesome, sleeping in your own bed, really great not have to travel all the way to Indy, all those things are big pluses."
If Minnesota beats Indy Saturday, the Wind Chill will take on Chicago Union (11-1) on the road in the next round of the playoffs. During the regular season, the Wind Chill went 2-1 against their division foe, however, Minnesota dealt Chicago its lone loss in the regular season.
The Wind Chill host the AlleyCats at Sea Foam Stadium in St. Paul on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. CT. For more information about tickets, click or tap here.
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