Hockey season is nearly here. Players for the Steele County Blades junior hockey team will arrive in Owatonna in late August and the team is still seeking host families.

Billet families will host a player at their home for the season, which runs through the end of February. Families are compensated $300 per month to assist with food and lodging costs, plus receive season tickets for the home Blades games at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna. Players need to have their own room.

Players are required to hold down a job if they aren't taking classes. They are kept busy by the team's practice schedule, games and community service.

For more information, contact Marge or Mike Steinbauer at (507) 455-0604 or (507) 456-4960.

It has been a busy off-season for the Blades. They were purchased by the Iowa Wild AAA Hockey Club and hired Max Barron as their new general manager. Former player Adam Carlson signed a professional contract and several others made college commitments.

The Blades released their schedule on their website over the weekend. The season opens Friday, September 9, at the Dells Ducks. After trips to Detroit and Blaine the Blades will open their home schedule Saturday, October 15, versus the Ducks. The 43-game schedule has just 17 home dates. Steele County will play three home games in October, four in November and five each in January and February. They don't have any home games in December. The schedule includes a couple of national showcase events. The 2016-17 season marks the fifth winter for the Blades in Owatonna.

Teams from the Wisconsin Dells, Chicago, Forest Lake, River Falls, Wisconsin Rapids, Blaine and Detroit will come to Owatonna during the season.

Roy Koenig, Townsquare Media