Blades’ opener Saturday

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2002

The newly formed Southern Minnesota Hockey League is a go.

It may mean a little tougher going for the Albert Lea Blades, but they don’t mind.

General manager Jason Fornwald said the Blades, who won the Upper Midwest Hockey League championship in their inaugural season a year ago, are up to the challenge.

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“The league will definitely be tougher,” said Fornwald. “But we’re looking forward to it.”

The Blades, 3-0 after winning a season-opening tournament at Mason City Oct. 19-20, open league play Saturday at Mason City. Eight home games will be played at the Albert Lea City Arena, though dates are not finalized.

The league also includes two teams from Rochester and one from Austin. One of the Rochester teams includes former NHL players Doug Zmolek and Doug Wick.

In addition to Fornwald, the Blades return 18 players from last year’s squad.

The returnees, with position and place of residence, are: Fornwald, goalie, Albert Lea; Josh Heilman, goalie Albert Lea; Scott Heilman, defense, Albert Lea; Mike Miller, defense, Albert Lea; Nate Ellsworth, defense, Minneapolis; Marty Anderson, defense, Albert Lea; Travis Brua, defense/right wing, Albert Lea; Kris Ellsworth, left wing, Albert Lea; Dave Nystrom, center, Albert Lea; Mike Nelson, center, Albert Lea; Harley Klimmek, right wing, New Richland; Jason Schwartz, left wing, Albert Lea; Don Savelkoul, right wing, Albert Lea; Justin Bolinger, center, Albert Lea; Jeremy Hendrickson, left wing, Albert Lea; Levi Hendrickson, right wing, Jackson; Chad Hacker, right wing, Albert Lea.

Players new to the team are Levi Hendrickson, Nick Kruse, Tim Lamen and Jason Ferrington.

“The addition of these four skaters will bring some more youthful legs to the roster,” said Fornwald.

Each team in the league will play 16 games, four against each team, two at home and two away. The league championship tournament will be played March 1-2 at the City Arena.

The Blades have also set up their own web site. The address is http://webpages,