The Steele County Blades junior hockey team has several circle-the-date games on the calendar for the 2021-22 campaign. The season opener happened on September 25, a 7-1 win at Rum River. The home opener is Friday, October 8 at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna. Sunday, January 23 is pretty significant as well. The Blades will play in the first-ever junior game to be part of Hockey Day Minnesota.

While some northern climate players may have played games on an outdoor rink, for many it will be a new experience. Additionally, to be playing inside a football stadium at Minnesota State University-Mankato adds a level of "cool" to it.

The Blades had a strong season in 2020-21, finishing with a winning record. A pair of veteran players look for even better things in 2021-22 with a wealth of experience back from that squad.

Matthew Ebersole (Milwaukee, WI) feels momentum comes out of his first year with the team last season, "I think year number one was a good building point for year number two. I think we should come back this year a lot better, a lot stronger and a lot more prepared."

Blades forward Matthew Ebersole

He looks forward to the outdoor game in January, "It's going to be awesome. It's going to be such a great time...First of all, playing on a football field in a football stadium at a sweet arena...The whole atmosphere is going to be just great."

He's not too worried about the potential for frigid weather, "That's alright," he laughed.  "Weather doesn't matter at that point."

Goalie Elliot Wrigley (Littleton, CO) says the weather is too warm in his hometown for outdoor hockey. He says he got in a bit of pond hockey last year, "I've always wanted to play in an outdoor game like that. I've seen previous Hockey Day in Minnesota games. It just looks incredible. Looks like a great tradition to be a part of."

Blades goalie Elliot Wrigley

Steele County welcomes Wilson Anderle back to the team as a coach, "I played here from 2014 to 2016, two seasons under coach (Nick) Adamek - his first two seasons here. I absolutely loved it. After that I went up to Gustavus and knew right after college I wanted to coach...I really excited to be back in Owatonna and working with the Blades, it's a great organization."

Steele County coach Wilson Anderle

Steele County plays at the Minnesota Blue Ox Friday and Saturday, October 1-2 in Coon Rapids. Game time is 7 pm each night. See the Blades full roster here. Find Steele County's schedule here.

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