As Friday rolled around for the Hockey Day Minnesota festivities on the ice, the local high schools got their chance at battling on the outdoor rink at Blakeslee Stadium along with a Minnesota State Alumni game later that night. The Mankato East versus Mankato West game kicked off first at 5:30 p.m., as both teams took the ice.
Both teams had played each other earlier in the season, where the Mankato East Cougars defeated the Scarlets of Mankato West 8-3 at All Seasons Arena. The Cougars were led by Brayden Borgmeier in the contest, who tallied four points on two goals and two assists.
Leading up to this game the Cougars had relied on their senior goaltender Caelin Brueske, who had played and started in all 15 of the team’s games up to this point in the season. Brueske was unable to play in the Hockey Day Minnesota game this past weekend, which led to the start of Lucas Barnett for East who collected his first career shutout in his first varsity start.
The two teams came into the game with completely opposite records of each other, East at 10-5-0 and West at 5-10-0. With the game, the regular season series between the two teams would be decided as either a sweep for the Cougars or a 1-1 split.
East, the favorite to win the game, came out as they should, firing on all cylinders as they scored their first shot on goal less than two minutes into the contest. Only a few minutes later the Cougars scored their second goal of the game on the power play to go up two with 10 minutes remaining in the first.
It did not end there however, as the team was able to get on the board again shortly after killing a penalty to head into the first intermission up 3-0. The Cougars tallied two more goals in the second period before a scoreless third period to finish their game as Hockey Day champions 5-0.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 11-5-0 while the Scarlets fell to 5-11-0.
Later that night the Minnesota State Alumni game was set for drop, as notable Mavericks took the ice such as David Backes and Ryan Carter. Carter played two seasons in Minnesota State’s program from 2004 to 2006.
He then went onto the NHL where he played for several teams including the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils before playing his final two seasons for the Minnesota Wild. Backes, on the other hand, played three seasons for the Mavs, playing just before and during Carter’s tenure from 2003 to 2006.
Backes’ 15-year career in the NHL most recently ended with the Anaheim Ducks, but he also played for the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. Backes remains the most decorated Maverick to date after an NHL All-Star appearance, two Olympic appearances, and a silver medal in 2010.
Behind the bench included Mavericks coaches from the past 50 years. Carter’s team was coached by Don Brose, the first MSU coach ever who led the team while they played all their games on an outdoor rink.
Brose returned to coach the alumni team on yet another outdoor rink while facing off against Darren Blue, who is a former MSU player and longtime assistant coach of the Mavericks. Blue has served under Troy Jutting and Mike Hastings as an assistant, and is continuing on for his 21 season this year.
The collection of the “MavFam” created a bunch of excitement not only for the players and coaches but also the community as they packed the stands in anticipation for the game.
Defensive mastery was not the name of the game for this one, as both teams buried shot after shot against their opposing goaltender.
Team Brose and Team Blue finished off the two periods of play with a final score of 4-5, with Team Blue taking home the victory after scoring five goals on 14 shots. Team Blue’s Backes won the first star of the game behind one goal and two assists.
Header photo: Ryan Carter and David Backes highlighted Friday’s action in the MSU Alumni game while local high schools Mankato West and East settled their in-city rivalry.