New Ulm Steel holds 2017 draft

NEW ULM — Even though baseball is going strong, the New Ulm Steel NA3HL hockey team is busy preparing for the upcoming hockey season here in New Ulm.

Tuesday night, the Steel completed their 2017 draft by selecting nine players.

“I think that it was a good draft for us,” General Manager Bryant Black said. “We took a gamble on a few players but the nine players that we did get can be contributors to our team this upcoming season.”

The Steel used their first round pick on defenseman Zach Heiser of the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the NAHL and then took a gamble on forward Jack Johnston from St.Paul Academy.

“He (Johnston) has been tendered in a league that is higher than us in Alaska,” Black said. “He is a high-end kind of player. We also took a chance on [8th round pick] defenseman Ryan Murray from Prior Lake High School — he has been tendered by the Minnesota Wildnerness (NAHL) in Cloquet. They would both have to fall down to us but that is always a gamble. We want to bring in high-end players and we hold their rights (in the NA3HL) so if something happens they can always come down to us.”

Five of the Steel’s top six draft picks were forwards which was not planned prior to the draft.

“We were looking at some players that we wanted but were drafted earlier. Granite City took a player we wanted on the pick before us,” Black said. “We have a draft list that we rank.”

The Steel did draft a local player in Luverne High School forward Jesse Reed in the seventh round.

“He is a gritty kid who is going to have to fill a role for us like Dylan Leivermann or Corey Martinez did for us last season — they get in the corners and work hard — bring energy to the team,” Black said. “He is a big kid and is only 1 1/2 hours from home.”

Black also said that the 2017-18 season schedule will be officially be released soon.

Last year with the Steel in their first year in New Ulm they had a home-heavy September through November. That will change this season.

“We were in St. Cloud (Wednesday) and our home opener is September 23rd against Willmar,” Black said. “Last year we had seven home games in October but this year we only have four home games in October. Our home games are pretty well spread out with four home games in October, three in November, four games in December, four in January and five games in February.

Black said in addition to the division home games the Steel will also host North Iowa. Rochester and Wausau, Wisconsin, a new team in the NA3HL.

Advance sale for season tickets will be on July 15th. “You can go to Facebook or our website nusteelhockey.com for information on when they can be purchased. The advance season ticket prices will be pretty heavily discounted. If you buy them from July 15th until the start of the season you can get a pretty good deal.”

A complete list of the players the Steel drafted is on the Steel website or facebook.

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