NEW ULM - New Ulm boys' hockey coach Erik Setterholm feels that despite a 3-2 upset loss to Hutchinson in the Section 3A semi-finals, his team had more good things than bad happen this season.
"The biggest thing was that we had a young squad that I think learned from their mistakes," said Setterholm, who saw his team go 13-13-1 this year. "All that I hope that they gain from this year is that they are hungry for next season. We let a couple of days go by after the loss to Hutchinson before we had our player exit interviews. Pretty much the morale of the interviews was that every player had a pretty bad taste in their mouth. The biggest thing with a young team like we had [only six seniors] is that you let that bad taste in your mouth get to where you want to go in the seasons to come."
Setterholm said that his message to the players was that they needed to work harder for next year.
"I think that everybody was on board with that," Setterholm said.
Setterholm felt that part of that may have come when his team watched a heavily favored Luverne team lose to Marshall.
"I think that really weighed on the kids before and during our game, "Setterholm said. "It took us a couple of periods to get out of that funk. We dominanted a lot of that third period, but we just ran out of time."
He added that a team cannot go to the playoffs and expect to win playing only 17 of 51 minutes of a game.
Marshall downs Luverne
For a lot of New Ulm fans, when Marshall defeated top-seeded Luverne, many thought that it was a late Christmas gift for the Eagles. But the loss had the opposite effect.
"I was worried about that," Setterholm said. "As a coach you never downplay any team you are going to play, but again the nerves had a lot to do with that loss."
New Ulm strong next year
New Ulm may be the favorite in Section 3A next season with a boatload of talent back. The Eagles lose Blake Neumann, Mitch Neid, Collin Kral, Chad Ludewig, Nick Larson and Josh Cooper, but return the bulk of their scoring along with goalie Brach Kraus.
"We bring back 14 kids who played a lot this year," Setterholm said. "But we also lose six seniors who did a lot for the program. We have talent coming back and after talking to each one, they know that as a team we have something to prove."
Eagles in Fergus Falls
New Ulm will not play in the Rochester Tournament next year but will play in the Fergus Falls Tournament instead. That is a varsity and JV tournament.
"The reason that we are going to Fergus Falls is that the Fergus Falls head coach (Matt Donaghue) and I were roommates when we both played Junior Hockey in Deerwood, Minnesota," Setterholm said. "He has been after me for quite a few years to get us up there. They have both a varsity and JV tournament and we have great numbers now, we made the switch."
Setterholm does see some realignment possibly coming in Section 3A next year with Willmar being moved into the section. Another possibility is both Mankato East and West being moved in.