Steele County Blades Name Award Winners for 2021-22 Season
After coming up short in a competitive playoff series, the Steele County Blades junior hockey club gathered as a team for the final time recently. The close-knit group held its season-ending dinner/awards night at Crooked Pint in Faribault. Team officials, volunteers, billet hosts, and families joined the players for the reflection on a solid winter campaign.
Steele County went 22-18-2 on the regular season, fighting for a home playoff seed until the final week of the season. The Blades grabbed a lead in each of their playoff games against the Minnesota Moose but were swept in the best-of-three series 6-3 and 4-2.
Award winners for the Steele County Blades:
- 'Pete Kalan' Character of Steele - Anders Thorager (Stillwater)
- 'Matt Tveite' Most Valuable Player - Evan Axell (Plymouth)
- Defensive Player of the Year - Axell
- Offensive Player of the Year - Charlie Smith (Waterdown, Ontario)
- Hardest Worker - Noah Murphy (Faribault)
- Most Improved Player - Jackson Blough (St. Joseph, MI)
Blades coach Nick Adamek thanked the players, billet families, and volunteers for their dedication to the team and community of Owatonna. He spoke personally of how much of an impact the team and town have on each other, citing his own son as an example.
In a recent interview, Adamek, in his eighth season as coach, expressed his appreciation for the togetherness of the team, "I like the fact that we've done this all year together. That's the biggest thing. We've gone through our ups and our downs together...Like we're a big family. That's important. Families squabble, but families also love each other."
Adamek thanked the fans for their support, "It's been really nice to see you all. We appreciate you sticking by us...Thank you for coming back (after COVID restrictions the previous season) and showing the guys you care about them. To all the people who have been around through all of it, I can't express my gratitude enough. Thank you very much."
The season will be remembered for the cohesiveness the team felt with a large number of players returning from the 2020-21 season. Several players age out after this season. Additionally, the Blades were part of history in the first-ever junior game featured as part of Hockey Day Minnesota at Minnesota State University-Mankato inside Blakeslee Stadium. (Link to game recap below.)
Hear player interviews from throughout the season from KRFORadio.com story postings.
- Evan Axell
- Joey Bunton, Ryan Kerr, Dylan Carlson and Nate Gulsvig
- Ethan Secord, Wyatt Barton
- Connor Lee and Elliot Wrigley (reaction to Hockey Day MN)
- Jacob Snyder and Jack Stock
- Anders Thorager and Jordan Nawrocki
- Ronan McLaughlin and Jake Miltko
- Brady Rossbach and Jackson Blough
- Matthew Ebersole, Elliot Wrigley and coach Wilson Anderle
Hockey Day Minnesota 2022, Mankato
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