New Ulm, Banal ice Fairmont Area, 6-1

GROUNDED EAGLE — Fairmont Area’s Matt Kotewa (3) gets tangled up with New Ulm Eagles center Sam Berg (on ice) during Big South hockey action Thursday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Tony Nuss (2), goaltender Colby Kuhl and forward Carson Kuhl (13) watch the icy action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — A quick-paced offense is never a bad thing to have in hockey. Nick Banal scored in the first 30 seconds of the first and second periods, and finished with a hat trick to lead the New Ulm Eagles over the Fairmont Area Cardinals, 6-1, during Big South Conference boys hockey action on Thursday night.

“He showed up and played a pretty good game tonight. He got a couple goals quick and got us going in both the first and second periods,” Eagles head coach Ryan Neuman said about Banal. “The rest of the guys played well, too. … Definitely in hockey, anytime you can get up and apply the pressure on them is always a good thing.”

The center utilized a pass up the ice from defender Luke Scheid to net his first goal at the 16:34 mark of the opening period. Twelve minutes later, wing Colton Braulick rebounded defender Shane Esser’s blocked shot for a 2-0 lead after one period.

Once again, Banal came out of the break, swiping in a score 14 seconds into the middle frame via another Scheid assist.

“That’s going to be a shoulder-shrugger when that happens,” Cardinals head coach Kris Olson said. “I think they bounced back from that nicely, too, tonight because in recent games as well, that would have been a complete attitude-killer.”

Indeed, the Cardinals answered one minute later with sophomore forward Carson Kuhl getting to a loose puck and scoring his second varsity goal in five days.

“He’s starting to pick it up and settle in and kind of find his role on the team,” Olson said about Kuhl. “That’s crucial for these younger guys to have that realization.”

With 6:20 to go in the period, the Cardinals lost senior defender Matt Kotewa, who was taken to the hospital room with a dislocated right shoulder.

Banal ended the period with an assist to wing Landon Strong for a 4-1 score going into the final break.

Scheid provided a third assist to senior defender Deren Swanson-Cullen before Banal closed out the Eagles’ scoring with a shot from the outside of the faceoff circle for the power-play goal. Wing Glavine Schugel assisted on the goal.

Senior Colby Kuhl racked up 66 saves as the Eagles tried for 72 shots on goal.

Jack Raymond rejected 16 Cardinals shots with the team recording 17 shots on goal.

Fairmont (0-6) plays at Morris/Benson Area in a doubleheader, starting with the girls at 1 p.m. Saturday, and New Ulm (3-4) plays at Litchfield on Saturday.

Fairmont 0-1-0–1

New Ulm 2-2-2–6


1st Period

NU — Nick Banal (Luke Scheid), 16:34.

NU — Colton Braulick (Shane Esser), 4:19.

2nd Period

NU — Banal (Scheid), 16:46.

FA — Carson Kuhl (unassisted), 15:40.

NU — Landon Strong (Banal), 1:51.

3rd Period

NU — Deren Swanson-Cullen (Scheid), 14:06.

NU — Banal (Glavine Schugel), 1:07.

Shots on goal: New Ulm 21-24-27–72; Fairmont Area 4-9-4–17.

Saves: Colby Kuhl (FA) 19-22-25–66; Jack Raymond (NU) 4-8-4–16.

Penalties: New Ulm 3 for 9 minutes; Fairmont Area 4 for 8.

Power-play chances: New Ulm 1-for-4; Fairmont Area 0-for-3.