Short-handed Steel earn key win over Loons
NEW ULM — It was a win that the New Ulm Steel needed.
The Steel spotted the Minnesota Loons an early 1-0 lead before scoring three unanswered goals — the third coming on an empty-net score from Vladislav Ostapenko — and downed the Loons 3-1 Saturday night in an NA3HL game at the New Ulm Civic Center.
Bryce Hall and Jackson Heim each added a goal for New Ulm, with Gus Cantwell adding two assists. Aiden Swee, Ryler Schelle and Blake Biermaier each had a helper.
Steel goalie Dixon Ehlers stopped 23 of 24 Loons shots.
“I thought that our guys showed up and came out hard tonight,” Steel assistant coach Tommy Adams said. “They played well and we did the little things that we needed to do to win.”
It was an even bigger win when you consider that the Steel were down five players in the game.
“Connor Souza was out with an injury and we had Lahoussine Salama, Jack Laser, Charlie Sullivan and Zach Dazell out with one-game suspensions,” Adams said. “We have a deep team so it was the next-man-up mentality. We had some guys who had not played in a while hop up amd make an impact and did their most for their opportunity tonight.
“I thought that Cooper Guttormson stepped up — Aiden Swee played well and Bryce Hall stepped up, as did Ryler Schelle. They were making an mpact getting the puck to the net and as leaders on the ice.”
After the Loons took that 1-0 lead, it was Heim who knotted the game at 1-1 after the first period.
Bryce Hall gave the Steel a 2-1 lead in the second period on assists from Schelle and Swee before Ostapenko sealed the win with an open-net score with just over a minute left in the game.
“It felt like at first their goal sucked the energy out of us,” Adams said. “But our leader stepped up and responded.”
It was a big win in that it gave the Steel a 2-point lead over the Loons and it also pulled the Steel 2 points closer to Willmar as they lost to Oregon Saturday night.
The Steel and the Loons are back at it at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the New Ulm Civic Center.