Steel end 22-23 season without playoff berth
NEW ULM — The New Ulm Steel’s 2022-23 season came to a close Friday night when Willmar defeated the Minnesota Loons to clinch the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division.
The Steel end their season at 15-26-1.
Despite the season coming to an end with no postseason berth, Steel coach/GM Alex North said that it was a really good year.
“From where we were when I took over in January last year to where we are now has been pretty remarkable,” he said Monday at the New Ulm Civic Center. “That is just a testament to the players and how hard they have worked in trusting the process and believing in us.”
North began exit interviews with all players on Monday.
“With the graduating players, we are going to set up plans for schools and with the returning players to see who is planning on coming back and who will be looking for a different opportunity,” he said. “Once we do that we star communicating with our new incoming players for next season. It is a moving target all summer until they show up here and move into their billets.
“I think that we have a pretty good number of players that want to come back here next season.”
One of the things that North and other Junior Hockey teams battles for is players.
There are 17 junior hockey teams in Minnesota, and if each team averages 25 players (some do have more) on the roster, that is 425 Junior Hockey players on rosters of teams in Minnesota alone.
North said many coaches are talking to the same players.
“So you want to retain as many players as you can so you can narrow what you need to look for,” North said. “That is where these exit interviews are important, so I have a clear direction on where I need to go. Last year we needed to fill the team, but now this year we have a solid base of players so we can be more selective of who we want.”
On the ice North wants to keep building on what they have started.
“We want to make sure we are in the playoffs next season,” North said. “We need to be better defensively — we can be a playoff team in this division.”
Off the ice, North said that there is a lot that he wants to do.
“I have some ideas in my head that will make the game-day experience better for the fans and something that they will not want to miss. We want to make it more fan-friendly.”