Eagles battle Tigers for state tourney berth Wednesday

File photo by Travis Rosenau New Ulm’s Bryer Lang (22) goes for the puck after a faceoff during a Section 3A Boys Hockey Tournament semifinals game against Mankato East this past Saturday at Lund Arena in St. Peter.

NEW ULM — New Ulm Eagles boys hockey head coach Ryan Neuman said that Saturday night’s 6-3 win over Mankato East/Loyola in a Section 3A semifinals game was one that he has not been a part of too many times.

“We were up three [3-0 after the first period] with a lot of momentum on our side and dominating that period outshooting them 14-3,” Neuman said. “We may have came out flat in the second period — they tied it, but we got momentum back late in the second period.

“Then we went up 5-3 in the third and then we had to kill of that 5-on-3 power play that they had that included a five minute major.”

Add to that, New Ulm goaltender Bryer Hoffman became ill late in the game that halted the game.

“I felt terrible for Bryer and we had to get his mindset right to go back on the 5-on-3 East power play. That was a new thing for me,” Neuman said.

Now in the Section 3A title game Wednesday night at Lund Arena, the Eagles (22-5) face a Marshall Tigers team that comes in at 16-11. The Tigers have also lost both regular season meetings with New Ulm by scores of 6-1 and 4-1.

But Neuman knows the Tigers may be playing their best hockey now having stunned heavily favored Luverne 3-2 in the other 3A semifinals game on Saturday.

“We are going to have to spread them out a little bit,” Neuman said about the Tigers. “They run a pretty good defensive structure — they block a lot of shots — so we need to find ways to exploit that. We need to capitalize on our scoring chances because that is what hurt Luverne [Saturday].

“They missed the net a lot, hit the pipe a few times and shot into the goalie. So we have to play our smart, structured hockey and I think that we will be just fine.”

Austin Uecker and Kaden Larson have been two players who have really keyed the Eagles, especially in the postseason. In the last two games, Larson has dished off five assists.

“And all of our seniors — Bryer Lang, Brock Wellmann — are stepping up huge for us right now,” Neuman said. “Brock scored a big goal [Saturday] and Bryer scored a late goal. We are getting scoring from all of our lines and we have been pretty consistent doing that.

“And Austin and Kaden have been playing well together pretty much all year. If you are on the ice with Austin, you are going to have a chance to put the puck in the net. He [Uecker] was our bull in killing that 5-on-3. He killed a lot of that himself.”

A win Wednesday would send the Eagles to the Big Show for the first time since 2019.

The Eagles may enter this game a little under the weather as Neuman did not have the team practice Monday.

“There is some sickness going around the squad right now, so hopefully it runs through quickly.”


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