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WarHawks down Steel in season opener

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau New Ulm Steel forward Zach Maillette (27) makes a move on a breakaway during the second period of Saturday’s NA3HL game with Willmar at the New Ulm Civic Center.

NEW ULM — Willmar scored two goals in both the second and third periods Saturday night as the WarHawks downed the New Ulm Steel 4-1 in an NA3HL season-opening game at the New Ulm Civic Center.

Zach Maillette scored the lone goal for the Steel in the third period, with Gus Cantwell getting the assist.

Jeremiah Konkel had two goals for Willmar.

WarHawks goalie Cooper Olson stopped 27 of 28 shots, while Steel goalie Zach Foster stopped 38 of 42 shots.

For first-year head coach Curtis Doell, the outcome was not the way he wanted the season to start.

“Especially with the year they had last year,” he said. “I think that we were to undisciplined tonight. We took to many penalties and we got down on each other a little bit. But it is a long season. There may have been some kids who had the jitters, so it is a learning experience for us.”

After a scoreless first period, Willmar used the power play to get on the board at the 4:19 mark of the second period when Konkel put a rebound by Foster.

Just under five minutes later, Max Cohen made it 2-0 beating Foster on the stick side.

The second period was also a period where the game got physical with three 10-minute misconduct penalties called — two on New Ulm.

“It got more physical than I think our guys are built for,” he said. “We need to use more of our speed more.”

The Steel did have chances to get back into the game but failed to capitalize on seven power plays in the contest.

“We are still figuring out our players,” Doell said. “We had a new defenseman come in.”

Konkel’s second goal of the game early in the third period gave Willmar a 3-0 lead before Maillette, who led New Ulm in scoring last year, scored at the 15:35 to cut the lead to 3-1.

But Willmar salted the game away with less than three minutes left in the game on an open-net goal by Collin Kerkhoff.

Doell was happy with his shots on goal and got more pucks to the net than they did in the scrimmage last Saturday.

“I felt that our penalty kill was good and we did a good job of not letting them get second and third opportunities,” Doell said. “And I thought that Zach Foster played well in the nets.”

New Ulm is home at 7:10 p.m. Friday at the New Ulm Civic Center when they host the Minnesota Loons.

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