New Ulm Steel add new talent for 2017-18 season
NEW ULM — There is still a lot of baseball to be played but the New Ulm Steel (Tier III) junior hockey team has already begun preparations for its second year in New Ulm.
“We have a new head coach in Andrew Kolb and it is going to be nice to have our head coach living in New Ulm and just three minutes from the [Civic Center],” said general manager Bryant Black, who also bought a house in New Ulm. “And I am just a few blocks away from the arena. I know that already Andrew is at the rink every day working hard and recruiting new players. Pretty much our entire defensive corps are back from last year with Steven Mordini, Sam Storlie, Trevor Woytcke — three of our top defensemen are back. We also bring back [forwards] Luc Kreuser and Alex Nagel.
“We are working hard to get some top-end new players so it will be an interesting year.”
While the Steel have experience there, the goaltending position will see some new faces. Nathan Sicliovan, who started most of the games, is now too old. Jon Albers is now playing college hockey for Augsburg and Brady Boudreau declined a tender.
“But we did sign Ryan Kenny, who was a goalie for Team Wisconsin last year and was one of the best goalies in Wisconsin,” Black said. “And we signed Ryan Bielenberg from Northfield. He carried his team to the state tournament. He made 50 saves in a first-round game so we have two good goalies who are coming in.”
Black said that this year will have more new faces than last year as the team will be much older.
“We will have between eight to 10 players back this year but those returning players played prominent roles for our team last year,” Black said.
Also returning for the Steel is defenseman Alec Mosher, who tore his ACL early last year playing for the Steel.
New Ulm natives Bayler Kraus and Brandon Mehlhop will also help.
The Steel also signed a familiar name in Nick Wieben, who is originally from Mankato and played last year for the Omaha AAA team.
“His family has now also moved to New Ulm,” Black said. “Brandon Penns was one of the best players from Apple Valley so we are getting quality players.
“We bring back one of the best defensive corps in the league this year.”
BETTER SCHEDULE: This year the Steel have a better schedule than their initial season in New Ulm.
“Last year we had seven home games in October but this year we have a more spread-out schedule [22 home games],” Black said. “We have a pretty good balance of games.”
The Steel play their division teams again and will also host the Wausau (Wisconsin) RiverWolves on Jan. 26 and 27.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT OUTSTANDING: Black said that the support for the Steel from New Ulm has been outstanding.
“We have sponsors and people who want to be involved with the Steel,” he said. “Happy Joe’s will be on the back of all of our game jerseys and Riverview Sanitation stepped up in a big way. And all of the community businesses have shown support.”
SEASON TICKETS AVAILABLE SOON: Season tickets for Steel games will be on sale during the Steel tryout camp on Aug. 12 and 13 at the New Ulm Civic Center.
“We will have some really good season ticket prices from mid-August until Sept. 1,” Black said. “We also purchased a Steel car that will be driving around town.”
BEST MERCHANDISE YEAR FOR STEEL: Steel owner Steven Black said that last season the Steel sold a lot of hats, uniform tops and hoodies.
“It was a very good year for us and the fans really supported us,” he said.
In fact Steel hoodies were the norm for a lot of students at schools in New Ulm.
“There are a lot of people interested so we want to do our best to represent New Ulm,” he said.