Gus Cantwell sharpens skills for Steel in Year 2
NEW ULM — When New Ulm Steel head coach and general manager Alex North was asked to describe forward Gus Cantwell, North described him as the Steel’s “Swiss Army Knife.”
“He can do it all,” North said. “He is one of the hardest working players out on the ice. He is a pretty easy go-with-the-flow kid who can score goals, he can penalty kill and he can play on the power play. He goes wherever he needs to go.”
Cantwell, who played high school hockey at Cretin-Derham Hall and has one more season of Junior Hockey remaining, is also one of the captains that North selected to lead his team.
“After what he did last season (15 goals, 19 assists), it felt only right to give him a letter this year,” North said.
And Cantwell said that missing the playoffs last season motivated the team heading into the summer.
“We were all kind of sad,” Cantwell said. “We wanted to be together a little bit more — spend some more time together — so we were all motivated going into the summer. We knew that the year did not go like we wanted it to. No one felt good about packing up their stuff and going home. We do not want that to happen this year.”
But there was some light for the Steel team as the season drew to a close.
“We did end last year on a very, very high note,” Cantwell said. “And that helped going into the offseason and carries over into this year. If you told me that this year, this is a different organization from last year, I would believe you. Last year has completely flipped over.”
Cantwell used the summer skating as much as he could. “Staying in shape. You are a year older — a little bit stronger and faster — and trying to lift weights as much as you can and skate.”
Cantwell said that offseason workouts are tough, but you find your groove.
“And we had a core group of guys who are trying to do the same thing,” he said. “I worked out with a couple of teammates. We tried to skate as much as we could. You find your group and you get better together.”
And the influx of new blood to the Steel team has created competition.
“(Alex) North did such a great job of recruiting guys that it brings up a competitiveness in the locker room knowing that you now have to battle for a spot night in and night out,” Cantwell said. “Everyone wants to play — you do not want to come here and not play — so everyone is working hard to get on that lineup sheet.”
And Cantwell has set some goals for himself and the team he will lead this season.
“I want to lead the West (Division) in points and I think that is very doable,” he said. “And I also want to help lead this team to a deep playoff run and hopefully to the Fraser Cup. It is not really about personal goals. It is more about team goals — the better the team does, the better I will do.”
North said that he and Cantwell had many conversations over the summer months.
“And I am glad he chose to come back,” North said.