Column: Melby hits 1,000 for NUHS

NEW ULM — When Reece Melby scored his career 1,000 point in Fairmont Thursday, he became the 42nd high school basketball player in New Ulm history to crack that career barrier.

The 6-foot-5-inch senior has exactly 1,000 career points now.

Melby becomes the seventh NUHS basketball player to reach the 1,000 career point total.

Melby will more than likely end his career as one of the top 20 all-time scorers of New Ulm’s three high schools.

GOALIES KEY FOR EAGLES HOCKEY: One of the keys to success in hockey is a strong goalie.

Coaches say that you can ride a hot goalie a long ways in the season and post-season.

The New Ulm Eagles boys’ hockey team has a luxury that most teams do not in that they carry two goalies that are almost mirror images of each other statistic-wise.

Joey Gag and Kyle Esser — both juniors — are 2-1 on the season. Esser has a 2.00 goals-against average while Gag carries a 2.58 goals-against average.

Esser has a save percentage of .915 compared to .913 for Gag.

Gag has played five more minutes than Esser this season and that was due to an overtime win in Marshall.

“Kyle is more technical and Joey makes saves,” New Ulm coach Ryan Neuman said. “They are both good goalies and are sound.

“With Jack [Raymond, now with the New Ulm Steel] in goal, both Kyle and Joey split time with the JV last year,” Neuman said. “And we are lucky to have two goalies that are that good. It creates constant competition in practice. And we also have a third goaltender in Dawson Sellner, a sophomore, who is also solid. In practice this creates competition when we are doing small area games. It has been a long time since New Ulm has had this many good goalies at the same time.”

While the boys’ hockey team carries two solid goalies, the Eagles girls’ hockey team is using the skills of seventh-grader Ava Brennan in the nets.

She is in her first year of varsity hockey after playing with the New Ulm 12U team last season but she has performed like a veteran.

Brennan is 7-4 this season and has a save percentage of .914 along with five shutouts. She has stopped 160 of 175 shots and carries an impressive goals-against average of 1.36.

“Goaltending was one of our question marks when the season started,” Eagles coach Kristin Faber said. “And Ava has stepped in and has done a great job for us. She has a number of solid games [two losses have come by scores of 1-0 in overtime and 2-0]. As a seventh-grader with no varsity experience she has done a phenomenal job. She has that poise in the nets — she does not get rattled. She works hard and she loves being at the rink.”

BATT HOPES FOR COMPLETE GAMES: New ulm Eagles girls’ basketball coach Brian Batt is hoping that his team can put together two good halfs to get their first win after four losses.

“I am encouraged by the way we have played in the second half of our last two games so hopefully we can string it out for an entire game,” he said. “In our first three games we got pressed the entire game and we had turnovers. We are not used to being pressed and that is a tough adjustment for us.

“A point guard means everything when you are being pressed,” Batt said. “Kirsten [Dennis] is getting better every game at that spot. She has the speed and explosiveness but she does not have that experience quite yet — she is only a sophomore.

“We are trying to play fast and working on pressing a lot too,” he said. “So there are going to be some turnovers when you play fast.

“Daviney [Dreckman] has stepped up well for an eighth-grader and is averaging over 10 points a game so we need to be patient with her because she can do a lot of fantastic things but being young she is also going to make mistakes that an eighth-grader is going to make. She is going to be a fantastic player for us.

“And Hannah Osborne has really stepped up and taken on the role of a senior leader for us,” Batt said.