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Steel open season Saturday at home against Willmar

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Steel will open their 2021-2022 NA3HL season on Saturday night when they host Willmar at 7:10 p.m. at the New Ulm Civic Center.

The Steel, who finished 7-29-4 last year, prepared for the game on Saturday with a 4-3 exhibition road win in Rochester last Saturday.

“We were very competitive,” Steel coach Curtis Doell said about the win. “Our kids worked really hard. We had a couple of our forwards playing defense and they competed just the way we wanted them to. Obviously with forwards playing defense, they can get caught up a little bit. Goaltending-wise we were spot-on. We played all three goalies and they all played well — they did what we needed (them to do). One of the goals that we gave up was a power-play goal and one came on a delayed penalty on us. Our goalies did their job and I thought that our kids played hard. We do have things to work on positioning-wise.”

He said that moving a forward to a defenseman in Junior Hockey is hard.

“It is difficult, but Bauer Barry played defense in high school before he got moved to a forward — Marcus Mack played some “D” last year. They understand the game and the positioning — it is not just all about backwards skating. It is more so angling and stick placement and positioning.”

Doell said that in the game he was looking to see who was who.

“I wanted to see where their heart is, where their skill is and what they can bring to our team,” he said. “Looking forward, we are going to be very competitive because they did not give up. They are a great group of kids who are excited to play the game.”

He said that the Steel’s strength this season will be their forwards.

“They are pretty solid — we have three before and after kids (will play Steel hockey and then go back to high school hockey when that starts). One is Gavin Brunmeier, who played for me last year at (Mankato) West, Ben Carlson played in Chippewa Falls and he used to live in Mankato and Braxten Hoffmann from New Ulm High School. Josh Guldan, also from New Ulm High School is playing defense for us and he was solid — for a high school kid playing at that level he was pretty good. Our goal is to give those kids more of an opportunity.”

Doell said that his goal is to be more offensive-minded.

“I want to control the puck and only dump the puck when you have to and when you do dump the puck it is done with a purpose. And the purpose is to get the puck back — you work hard to get the puck so why give it up.”

He also wants to see his team get more shots on goal which was a problem last season.

“We only had 18 (against Rochester) so we need to put pucks on net, crash the net and drive hard,” Doell said. “I am more of a quality shot guy — there is a shot for a purpose and there is a shot just to throw the puck on net. If we have 20 shots and score five goals, I am OK with that.”

So it all starts Saturday, which will be “Domino’s Pizza Magnetic Schedule Night.”

Also those interested can purchase Steel season tickets on Saturday. Adult season tickets are $200 for 22 home games. Adults can also buy 11-game season tickets for $100. Adult tickets are $10 at the door, with senior tickets (60 and over) $8. If you have a valid college or military ID, tickets are $5 at the door. Students (17-and-under) are also $5 at the door.

You can also purchase new Steel merchandise at the game. Merchandise will be limited early because of shipping delays.

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