Kolb faces many challenges in first year as head coach of New Ulm Steel

Column by Jim Bastian

First-year New Ulm Steel head hockey coach Andrew Kolb said that his first few months as the new head coach of the Tier III Junior A hockey team has been a lot of work

“But I would not trade anything for this,” Kolb said. “Bryant [Black, Steel General Manager] is working extremely hard this summer to put the best team possible together for us. It is a grind every day but that is what you have to do in order to be successful.”

The Steel’s first home game at the New Ulm Civic Center is just 42 days away when they host Willmar at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday, September 23.

The Steel will also be holding a try-out camp for untendered skaters this Saturday and Sunday at the New Ulm Civic Center, August 12th from 4:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Season tickets will also be on sale both days at discounted prices. Adult season tickets are $169, seniors are $139 and students are $89 for the 24-game home schedule.

BUSY SUMMER FOR STEEL: This summer has seen both Kolb and Black attending hockey camps looking for talent.

“I went to a camp in Denver and Bryant and I went to camps in Madison, Wisconsin and Minneapolis,” Kolb said. “I also went to the Austin Bruins NAHL (North American Hockey League) camp. When I played there were only three leagues and now that has expanded a lot. We are competing against teams from all over the country. It all about having that good recruiting pitch and why New Ulm is the place to be. I have talked to over 60 players this summer. Right now I really like where we are at.”

The Steel return the bulk of their defensemen but are looking up front for some added depth.

“We have Alex Nagel and Luc Kreuser back,” Kolb said. “We are unsure about Sam Wenner and Jacob Hadley. Benji Mickel decided to play in Salt Lake City, Utah which is closer to home [Arizona] for him. We also had some players who aged out — we had an older team last year so we will be much younger this year. But we like the core veteran leadership and we really like where we are at on defense.”

Kolb said that the Steel have 10 forwards who are committed this year but want to get to 14-15 forwards

This weekend’s tryout camp may also generate a player or two who the Steel may sign. Last year, the Steel signed New Ulm High School player Bayler Kraus to the squad.

CAMPBELL ASSISTANT COACH: Last season, Nick Campbell was a player for the Steel. This season, the Mankato native will be one of Kolb’s assistant coaches.

“He is very knowledgeable and he loves the game,” Kolb said. “He is going to college in Mankato.”

KOLB LIVING IN NEW ULM: Two important off-ice happenings for the Steel happened this year. Steel General Manager Bryant Black purchased a house in New Ulm and Kolb has also moved to New Ulm, which is something that Kolb felt was very important.

“I have four camps in New Ulm coming up and I love that and want to do that,” Kolb said. “We want our entire organization out in New Ulm and among the people. We want to be part of the community.”

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