Column: Tryout camp a success for New Ulm Steel

This past weekend, 26 skaters took to the ice at the New Ulm Civic Center for the Steel tryout camp that ran Friday through Sunday.

“We basically had put players on two teams, dropped the puck and played three games,” Steel coach Andrew Kolb said. “There were a lot of players that we knew and were familiar with that we had been recruiting over the summer. We had a few returning players and we had a couple of new faces. Those are the players we are going to meet with. We are going to talk to them about the opportunity to play Junior Hockey. We did have five players missing who had committed to us for next season.”

Kolb said he was happy with the numbers on both offense and defense.

“We had 18 forwards and seven defensemen so we had a good skate,” Kolb said. “We are still recruiting and we are still going to be recruiting after the camp.”

Kolb said that the familiar names and faces that Steel fans knew last year will change this season.

“There will be a ton of new players,” he said. “With the players we drafted and tendered players and guys who have signed contracts it will be a different team.”

Kolb said that there are a handful of players who are on the fence.

“Plus we do not know what is going to happen with Chippewa (Falls, Tier II team). They report August 20 and then they have their training camp for two weeks and they will have to make some moves.”

Kolb said that the Steel have signed former Albert Lea High School player Michael Savelkoul. Last year, he scored 14 goals and added 23 assists for the Tigers. They also signed Northfield’s Jacob Halvorson (21 goals, 34 assists) and Carson Sandwick from Lakeville North.

The Steel also had Christian Engel, a 16-year old player from St. Cloud at the camp.

“He is a tall kid (6 foot 4 inches),” Kolb said. “He got a look at our organization and we got a look at him. “He has work to do. He is an (2002) birth date so he is only going to be a junior in high school so we are going to have a long conversation with him and his dad and see what happens.”

New Um High School hockey player Landon Strong was also at the camp and Kolb said that he has come to the Steel camp for the last three years.

“He is a big kid, he is a three-sport athlete (at Sleepy Eye High School) and he is good at all of them. The future is bright for him. He has one year of high school hockey left and we have been in communication with him for three years.”

Kolb said that the Steel are off now until they report September 4.

“The players from Ireland and Latvia will report then,” Kolb said. “We also have a player coming from Nashville, Tennessee and one from Raleigh, North Carolina.”

EARLY BIRD STEEL TICKETS: Early Bird New Ulm Steel season tickets are available at discounted price in the month of August. Adult season tickets are $149 with seniors at $119 and students at $89. In September, 10-game packages and individual game tickets will be available for purchase.

You can contact Bryant Black at 320-760-3030 for tickets.

EAGLES TO USE ROTATION ON OFFENSE: New Ulm Eagles football coach Corey Kneeshaw said that this season people will see a lot more rotation of players on offense.

“We have a lof of wide receivers,” he said. “If we have to put someone else in on offense we can still be fine. I am not sure we can say that on defense. We are really thin at linebacker. We need to find some depth.”

Kneeshaw is also battling a numbers problem.

New Um High School is an AAAA school in football but it only has 45 players out for football in grades 9-12.

“What we have done (record-wise) the last three years is different than what they had done in the previous five years,” Kneeshaw said. “And yet the numbers have gone down each year. I do not know what the formula is. But it is not just us. Cathedral, MVL and other schools in the area have the same problem. Unless you are Waseca or Marshall a lot of us are fighting that battle.”