NU Steel add 2 new players to the roster

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Steel, who have now won eight of their last nine games in the West Division of the NA3HL, have added two new players.

Last Saturday, the Steel (11-5-2-2 and four points behind first place Granite City) added forward Andrew Pitleck to the roster prior to their game home game against Breezy Point and Tuesday they added another forward in former Mankato East player Hunter Johnson from the Jersey Shores Wildcats.

Johnson, who is from Nicollet, had played in 22 games for the Wildcats and had scored 13 goals and added 11 assists. Three of his goals were game-winning scores.

As for Pitleck, he seems to be the type of player the Steel are looking for to add depth.

“Andrew is from Coon Rapids and he was wanting a place to play,” said Steel coach Andrew Kolb, who has his team playing at Alexandria on Friday before hosting Willmar at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday at the New Ulm Civic Center. “At that point we were looking for some bodies and he is a good hockey player so we knew that he would come in and help us right away and he played Saturday night and got the first goal for us (in a 6-1 win over Breezy Point) and had an assist. He is a full-time guy for us.”

Kolb was also happy about the addition of Johnson.

“He had 24 points for Jersey (Wall, New Jersey),” he said. “He was a really good high school hockey player for Mankato East and he has proved himself already this season. His first day was with us Tuesday and he is a skilled forward. We recruited him heavily last year but Corey Leiverman — who is from Mankato — was the head coach for Jersey Shores but then took the head coaching job with Janesville in the NAHL this year. Adding those two players makes us better — we can spread things out and put new faces with new faces and gain some chemistry.”

Both Pitleck and Johnson are first-year players.

The Steel were also battling the injury bug last week so the addition of these two players will add some quality depth.

Alex Nagel, the Steel’s leading scorer with 11 goals and 17 assists, was thought to have had a broken collar bone.

“He is OK to play,” Kolb said about Nagel. “Steve Mordini got banged up. Ryan Smith was hurt — Luc Kreuser was hurt. But they all were evaluated on Sunday and Monday — there was nothing severe so they all should be ready to go for this weekend. We gave the players a day off Monday — an optional skate — because it is that time of the year where you get your bumps and bruises. We want to put together a good stretch of three games here (at Alexandria, home to Willmar and at Willmar) and then go into the Showcase for another three games.”

The pairings for the Showcase, which will be played at the Schwan’s Super Rink in Blaine December 17-19, were not yet released as of Wednesday.

Kolb felt that in the Steel’s 6-1 win over Breezy Point here last Saturday, that his team played one of their best games of the season.”

“We played well during our seven-game winning streak and if we play a full game that is what this team can do,” Kolb said. “We did not have Nagel that game and Smith warmed up but he could not go — Mordini did not play in the third period so we had other players step up.”

KENNY GOALIE OF THE MONTH: New Ulm Steel goalie Ryan Kenny was named the NA3HL Goalie of the Month for November. Kenny went 5-1 and had a 1.97 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage. Kenny was voted the top goalie in all of the NA3HL which has 44 teams in the nation. In fact, a Steel player won the Player of the Week in the month of November each week. It started with Mordini, then to Kirk Coppock followed by Nagel and then Kenny last week.

BEER STEIN NIGHT: Saturday night’s home game against Willmar is also Beer Stein Night. Fans can buy a Stein for $6 and then get $3 refills. If you bought a Stein last time, you can still get $3 refills at game.

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