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New Ulm Steel season on pause for two weeks

NEW ULM — New Ulm Steel Tier III hockey games have been put “on pause” for at least two weeks, said New Ulm Steel owner Steve Black Friday morning.

That means that Saturday’s scheduled game at the New Ulm Civic Center against Alexandria as well as the next four home contests will not be played.

This comes as a result of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order stopping all indoor sporting events, including high school sports, until at least Dec. 19.

The next potential home contest for the Steel will not be until Saturday, Jan 9 when they would host Willmar.

The pause affects all teams in the NA3HL West Division with the exception of North Iowa. They are the only team in the West Division not from Minnesota and are not affected by the stoppage.

“Our division is basically on pause,”Black said Friday morning. “The (NA3HL) continues to work with the State of Minnesota to talk about how we can get back on the ice. Is there a possibility of playing (games) without fans? We are just not sure right now. So right now I would say we are two weeks for sure on pause. Otherwise it could be all the way until after Christmas.”

There has been talk about shutting down the West Division until Jan.4.

“(It will) If Governor Walz changes or extends his December 19th date which I am speculating he might in some areas, but we are hoping that in worst case our players are back in New Ulm by December 27th and we can have games as early as New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day,” Black said. “That is our goal in worst case right now, but things remain fluid.”

The only team in the West Division that is not on pause is North Iowa who can continue to play games. “They do not have the restrictions, being in Iowa. Unfortunately with our division, four of the five teams (New Ulm, Alexandria, Willmar and Granite City (Sauk Rapids) are from Minnesota. So (North Iowa) is left with no one to play.The league only scheduled division games this season.”

Black said that the schedule may be extended to later in the season. But there are some places that may not have ice at that time. “I do talk with the league almost every day and it is fluid so I am hoping to hear more confirmation next week.The league is looking at what stipulations we could play under.”

One of those possible stipulations are games with no fans allowed.

“I am not sure I would entertain that idea right now,” Black said. “But I may entertain that for the month of December because the players really want to play. This is hurting them — they want to get back on the ice. Some of these players are going to age out and be going to college next year.”

Black did say that if the season was extended it may cause an issue for ice time in New Ulm because of the dry floor shows.

“I have been talking with the City of New Ulm about the possibility of extending the season but right they cannot answer because they do not know what is going to happen with the floor shows. But will other teams in our division have ice at that time?”

Black said that if the schedule is extended some later regular season games may be moved to Mankato.

One other aspect that comes into play if they extend the season is that New Ulm is scheduled to host the Double State PeeWee and Bantam “B” hockey tournament March 13-15 at the New Ulm Civic Center.

Right now with no extension of the season the Steel’s last regular season home game is March 13.

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