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Steel home opener this weekend

NEW ULM — New Ulm Steel hockey fans can get their hockey fix as the Steel open their 2022-23 home season with games Friday and Saturday night at the New Ulm Civic Center at 7:10 p.m. both nights against the Mason City Toros.

Steel coach/GM Alex North said that this past week (Steel did not play) his team was preparing by working on some system work, line combinations and penalty killing.

“We had a intra-squad scrimmage and the guys competed very hard with a game-like scenario,” North said. “But mostly it was competing and doing a lot of conditioning. And we do have a new player — we traded Rory Smith to Willmar for Charlie Sullivan and a tender — so we lost a defenseman but we gained a forward.”

When asked to crystal ball what fans will see from the Steel this weekend and the season, North gave the following parts of his team.

OFFENSE: North said that the Steel will score more goals than last season “Absolutely,” North said. “And it will be coming from multiple lines and not just one line. Our leading scorer right now is a defenseman (Nick O’Brien), which is awesome to see as a coach. And our guys are feeling like they are able to take more chances because our goaltending is doing super well.”

DEFENSE: Last season there were many games where the Steel were outshot three or four to one.

North said that that is still a work in progress.

“There are still certain habits that we have to break from last year,” he said. “Our biggest issues there are wing plays on the walls. We are getting beat on the walls and not getting pucks out.

“That is one thing that we have to focus in on. Once we take care of that, we will be spending a lot less time in our zone and then less shots on net.”

DEPTH: Last season, the Steel played some games with just 14 skaters.

This year, those roster numbers have doubled.

“For the most part, I have been running four lines straight with the occasional extra forward or defenseman,” North said. “Having depth is a nice problem to have.”

OVERALL PROJECTION: North said that fans that come to games will see a team that competes at a high level each game.

“There will be more offense and scoring opportunities,” he said. “We get Mason City and they are one of the best teams in our league, but we are a lot better than we were last year.”

Saturday’s game will also see a tailgate party prior to the game.

At 5 p.m. Tommy’s Tacos along with Jersey’s Sweet Spot Ice Cream trucks will be in the parking lot of the New Ulm Civic Center. There will be a “Chuck-A-Puck” contest with the winner receiving a $25 gift card to Play It Again Sports.

And as usual, Fred’s Dogs will be selling hot dogs all season.

Friday is also the last day to get “Early Bird Season Tickets.” They can be bought for $180 compared to the normal price of $220.

New Steel merchandise will also be on sale.

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