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Steel split games over the weekend

NEW ULM — New Ulm Steel head coach Curtis Doell said the past weekend was a good one as the Steel went 1-1.

New Ulm got a home 9-4 win over the Minnesota Loons on Friday before dropping a 5-2 road contest at Granite City the next night to go to 1-2 on the season in the West Division.

“For the most part it was a good weekend,” he said Monday before practice. “We still have some work to do in our defensive zone. We gave up to many opportunities even in the win Friday against a young Loons team — giving up four goals is four too many — against a young team. Saturday we were in the game until the third period [when Granite City scored three goals]. We had too many turnovers and gave up too many extra shots [19 shots on goal].”

One of the players who has raised eyebrows for Steel fans in the first three games has been Gavin Brunmeier who recorded a natural hat trick (three straight goals) Friday night and added another goal Saturday.

“He has been on fire,” Doell said. “I have coached him for the last three years [at Mankato West]. He has done well. He fits into our system and our big ice sheet helps him. He is a big boy. Unfortunately he is going back to West once the high school season starts in November. We will get him after the high school season is over.”

Doell reiterated that this week in practice, he is stressing play in the defensive zone.

“We are too offensive-minded right now — we need to shut down those second opportunities for other teams. All in all, the first three games we have competed pretty well. We need a few more returning players to step up and be better leaders on our team and lead by example with work ethic.”

The Steel will be on the road this Saturday with a game in Breezy Point against the Minnesota Loons before hosting the Loons in a rare Wednesday night game on October 6 at the New Ulm Civic Center.

For Minnesota Wild hockey fans, the Loons are owned by former Wild player Chris Stewart, who was in New Ulm last Friday for the game.

“He is a great guy,” Doell said. “He understands how his team is and he is looking to build that program back up. It is nice to have Breezy Point back [in the NA3HL]. He has played at the highest possible level.”

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