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Steel look to rebound Friday

By Jim Bastian

Journal Sports Writer

NEW ULM –The New Ulm Steel will try and rebound from an opening game 7-4 road loss to Granite City last Saturday when they head to Breezy Point to take on the North Stars this Friday night in an NA3HL contest.

“Their first games of the season did not go as well as they wanted (losing 9-0 and 4-3 to North Iowa),” Steel coach Zach Stepan said. “We did a lot of good things in our game Saturday, but then we had some things that we need to tweak structurally, but I think that we are pushing in the right direction.”

Stepan said that he was happy with his team’s work ethic in the loss.

“We played well in the first period, but we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties in the second period, and we addressed that in practice Monday. We were down 4-1 in that game and it would have been easy to throw in the towel, but our guys were resilient and came back.

“We have a lot of very young players on this team and for a lot of them it was their first Junior Hockey game ever and we played one of the best teams in the league. With me being a new coach and us trying to mimic everything that Chippewa does, even some of our returning players were learning that new structure and system, It was a completely new game for our players. And the biggest adjustment to Junior Hockey — especially in Minnesota — is the physical play.”

Right now, the Steel’s early-season schedule has them playing just one game a week. The Steel’s first back-to-back happens October 17 and 18 when they host Alexandria and then Coulee Region at the New Ulm Civic Center.

“With only one game a week, if you are not in the lineup you have to wait another week and I understand that part of it,” Stepan said. “But as a coach, we lost Saturday so not we get a week to practice to work on not losing another one. I like the one game a week to start off so that we have time to work on our mistakes. Right now it is kind of a blessing for us.”

Stepan said that the No. 1 line of Keagan Bauman, Michael Savelkoul and Jacob Halvorson showed that they can be a dominant force in the league.

“New players Stanislav Danaev, Joey Gimberlin, Jacob Zowin did well,” he said. “But on the backend, I felt that Tommy Broten (Mahtomedi) was our best defenseman all night. He did a great job of slowing the play down. He did a good job for his first year of Junior Hockey.”

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