By: Erica Koehler, nusteelhockey.com
After a lot of uncertainty, the New Ulm Steel is so happy to get back on the ice and have a season this year. The team started practice last week with a few days of training camp.
“Last week at training camp they got put through the ringer to see who was in shape and who wasn’t. They definitely surprised me with having six or so months of everything being shut down,” said head coach Zach Stepan.
With 17 returners, the team has a good mix of veterans and rookies. “The new players are starting to fit right in. Guys are starting to get the feel for the systems and everything so it’s off to a good start,” said defenseman Davis Smidt.
With most of the skilled forwards and high-scorers aging out last season, the team is looking for a new identity.
“From what I’m seeing on the ice, we’re gonna be a lot grittier this year compared to last year, but that doesn’t necessarily result in wins. I think we can be better all around than we were last year, but when it comes to results at the end of the night, whether who’s on the winning side, who’s on the losing side, we’ll have to see what they can do offensively,” said Stepan.
Starting tonight, Friday, October 2, the players will get their first taste of game play. The Willmar WarHawks come to town Friday night and then Saturday night, New Ulm is set to take on the Alexandria Blizzard.
“We’ve had practice, yes, but games you really get to see chemistry,” said Smidt.
It will be an exciting first weekend of hockey for the team and for the fans. Some things will be different and there will be new protocols in place for our safety, but the hockey will be the same and as good as ever.
“Back on the ice, the boys are looking good, looking fast. It’s gonna be a good year,” said defenseman John Klus.
Doors open and tickets go on sale at 6:30 p.m. The first 250 fans will be allowed in and the puck drops at 7:10 p.m. The bleachers will be marked for social distancing and we ask you follow the guidelines posted throughout the rink.