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Swanson learns hockey, assists Steel through broadcasts

NEW ULM — Back in 2021, Jason Swanson saw a post on Twitter that the New Ulm Steel were looking for volunteer to help out on the HockeyTV broadcasts of all Steel home games.

Swanson, who runs a non-profit Minnesota River Area on Aging (www.mnraaa.org) and admitted that he had no prior hockey background or in broadcasting, contaced Karen Haala, the Office and Marketing Manager of the Steel.

“I have never played hockey — I can’t skate — and growing up in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, we were a basketball family,” Swanson said. “Hockey was not a priority of ours.

“But I said that I would be willling to help out. I did it one game and they liked what I did, so I just kept coming back. This is the first time that I have done anything with the sport of hockey.”

Swanson recalled that his first game on HockeyTV was weird.

“I get on there, watch the game and just got to talk. No big deal,” he said. “Then they dropped the puck and I realized that, ‘Oh man I have to do this for the next 2 1/2 hours.’ It was shocking, but once I got into the routine, know the kids and know how the game goes, it is pretty easy in my eyes.”

He said that the hardest part of his job are learning some of the names.

“Especially when the opposing team comes in and they have a new player — I get upset if I pronounce that kid’s name wrong because his parents and friends are watching and listening from across the world,” he said. “It is important to me that I attempt to get their name pronounced right. That is the most nerve-racking thing for me. Other than that I just go and have fun.”

He said again not knowing the sport, the hardest thing was the penalties.

“I did not know what they were, so I just made them up to keep it light. But I make it very clear to the audience that I am not a hockey person by nature. But I am picking it up slowly.”

He said in his very first game, he tried to memorize the name of every Steel player, their number and hometown.

“But now I do some prep before the game — coach (Alex) North and Karen are great in getting me information on both teams. And I get to know the players for the Steel and sometimes when their parents come to the game, they come up and say hi to me. And each one has their own story and I like to send that out on the air. You get that personalty behind the mask.”

Swanson said that he enjoys his hockey gig with the Steel.

“This is my stress reliever where I can let my hair down,” he said. “I love doing it.”

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