SOUDAN- There wasn’t a food tent, nor was there the traditional raffle or skills competition, and it wasn’t even the “right” weekend, two weeks after the Super Bowl instead of …
SOUDAN- There wasn’t a food tent, nor was there the traditional raffle or skills competition, and it wasn’t even the “right” weekend, two weeks after the Super Bowl instead of one. Snow was falling, heavy at times, and the rosters were depleted compared to past years.
However, none of that mattered on Sunday in Soudan. It was time for hockey, the annual fun-but-ferocious joust for bragging rights between Tower and Soudan.
At least eight people took turns clearing snow from the rink while some players warmed up, others chatted with each other, and most gathered for a pre-game group photo. By the time well-known and animated area musician Steve Solkela strode onto the ice with his accordion for a resonant performance of the National Anthem, about 50 spectators were there to roar their approval.
Postponing the game by a week may have been the reason both teams were thinner in numbers than last year – Soudan had around a dozen skaters, Tower just eight or nine.
“The weekend after the Super Bowl is when the game’s supposed to be, but last weekend with 40-below, it was impossible,” referee Harry Homer said. “We had some big shots that didn’t show up.”
But there were plenty of big shots for Tower fans to cheer, as Tower scored fast and often, increasing its 5-2 first-period lead to 10-3 at the end of the second.
Soudan launched a spirited rally to start the third, scoring two quick goals as a deepening layer of snow often obscured the puck. But the Tower side responded in force, closing out the contest with five consecutive scores for a 15-5 win and avenging last year’s loss.
Tower Coach Bryan Morcom was anything but shy in victory, all too happy to provide Soudan with bulletin board material to stew over for a year.
“How epic is this?” Morcom crowed. “People from Soudan couldn’t even count as high as we scored.”
Homer said a few players would be going home with tender and perhaps painful reminders of the game.
“We were playing with a hard puck,” Homer said. “Normally we would play with a soft puck, but it was a choice of both teams. Some guys did not have regular hockey shin pads – they just sucked it up and said they’d play with it. Right at the end of the third period there were three people within 30 seconds that got hit in the ankle with a hard puck – it’ll leave a bruise for a couple of weeks. That’s something you’ve got to take when you’re a hockey player.”
The snow was something else the players had to take, and some adapted more easily than others.
“We weren’t going to re-shovel because it would’ve taken forever,” Homer said. “But it was equal. You could definitely see who had the ability to fight the snow and make the passes and score.”