It did not take long for the New Ulm Steel to name a new head coach.
Eight days after Jay Witta resigned from the position, Steel general manager Bryant Black announced that Andrew Kolb, who had been Witta’s assistant last season, will be hired as Witta’s replacement.
“Andrew did a great job last year for us,” Black said. “He puts in a lot of hours and hard work and gives back to the community. The players really like him. We didn’t have to look any further than Andrew.”
Kolb has an impressive hockey resume.
“When he was 16 and 17 he played in a league similar to the NA3HL and he led the league in scoring in one of those years there,” Black said. “He then played in the NAHL [North American Hockey League] and once again was a top player in the league — moved up to Tier 1 and got hockey offers from D-I colleges. He was a very elite hockey player in the United States when he was playing.”
Kolb, 27, said that he is excited.
“My goal has been to go into coaching and ultimately become a head coach,” he said. “I did not expect that [opportunity] to come this early but I think that I am ready for the challenge and excited for the challenge. This past week has been a long one with Bryant gone so I have been waiting to hear the news and what was going to happen.”
Kolb played two years of high school hockey in Toledo, Ohio, before he left for the then-called Central State Hockey League, now the current NA3HL.
“I played for the Toledo Cherokee, which is in my home city and then went to the NAHL and made a United States Hockey League team in Muskegon, Michigan,” he said. “I then went back to the NAHL and committed to play D-I hockey at Michigan Tech. It was a great offer and I jumped on it quickly. I didn’t look at the other things and I ended up decommitting and played hockey at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. I wanted to go as far as I could in playing hockey I was able to play some minor professional hockey.”
And Kolb is a rink rat.
“This past year I ran a skills night on Mondays for squirts, peewees and bantams,” he said. “I did that for an hour with the high school coach Ryan Neuman along with Mike Peterson. We also had players from the Steel and the high school involved. I love hockey so whenever they reach out to me I want to be a part of that. I love being at the rink and working with young kids.”
Kolb is looking forward to the coaching experience.
“I want to make the experience fun, I want to have an influence on the players to want to come to the rink every day to compete,” Kolb said. “The game should be fun and when it is not, that is when problems can occur.”
Kolb, like Black, will be living in New Ulm and will be a part of the community.