Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen of Brainerd was a big winner.
So were the St. Cloud State Huskies as the U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame Faceoff Classic skated into Brainerd Tuesday, Nov. 20. The contest raised about $3,500 for the soup kitchen and about 1,500 fans watched the Huskies blank the Bemidji State University Beavers 3-0 at Essentia Health Sports Center.
"I thought it was a fantastic evening," said Doug Johnson of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum and Let's Play Hockey newspaper. "It's so great for girls and women's hockey and to raise money for a fantastic charity. It's also good exposure for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. All in all, I thought it was fantastic."
SCSU head coach Eric Rud called it an awesome and very well organized experience for the two Division I teams that compete in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
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SCSU 3, Bemidji State 0
- Highlight: The Huskies won despite being outshot 36-24
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"From start to finish, when we came up with this concept in the summer until now, it was run like a normal, regular game," he said. "It wasn't like we were playing in the middle of nowhere. It was run very well. I think our girls felt that it was a special event. They were proud to be part of it."
Hallie Theodosopoulos, Julia Tylke and Ivy Dynek flicked in goals for the Huskies, who won their fifth game of the season but were outshot 36-34. SCSU goalie Janine Alder stood out in net as she pitched a shutout.
"I thought she played great," Rud said. "We were a little short-handed. We only played with four defensemen tonight. I was really proud of those four, the way they competed all night. They gave our goalie a chance. It was certainly a game that we needed at a good point of the year for us. Now we've got a little break so we were excited with the way we played."
Among those in attendance were many girls hockey players, including Brainerd/Little Falls Warrior junior forward Gabbie Smith, who last season verbally committed to BSU beginning with the 2020-21 season. One of the reasons Smith selected the Beavers was her sister, Ally, plays soccer for BSU.
"And I just love the facility every time I go watch," she said of the Sanford Center, "and the coaches are so nice."
The quality of play Tuesday made an impression on Smith.
"It's definitely a lot faster pace," she said, "and seeing what the expectations are going to be like when I get up there. It's so fun watching and just to be part of it."
BLF girls head coach Jim Ernster was happy with the fan turnout and the high caliber of the game.
"You can see, when you compare it to even high school girls hockey, they're just adding layers to the complexity of the game," he said. "They do it at such a fast speed. You can see those little area plays where they're not making a drag pass but putting it to an area just because they've been playing the game so well and for so long. It's just fun to watch."
Ernster commended officials in Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association like BAHA president Sam Blum, association director Jim Brau and hockey director Ryan Glas as well as Johnson for putting on a first-class event. Ernster indicated Brainerd proved it can host an event of this magnitude.
"They worked a ton," Ernster said. "I give them credit-this was a pretty seamless process from the time you got here today early in the afternoon-and (arena manager and scheduler) Bryan Hinrichs for the amount of work he put in. They showed we're capable of putting on an event like this. Whether people want to take advantage of it (in the future), we'll see."
• Pastor Bob Evans of the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen, which helps families in need by serving hot meals seven days a week, dropped the ceremonial first puck.
• Following the game, 1980 gold medal U.S. Olympians Bill Baker, who now lives in Brainerd, and Buzz Schneider presented SCSU with the Faceoff Classic Trophy.
• The Three Stars of the Game were Alder (No. 1 star), Theodosopoulos (No. 2) and Tylke (No. 3).
St. Cloud State 1 1 1-3
Bemidji State 0 0 0-0
First period: SCSU-Hallie Theodosopoulos (Hannah Bates, Taytum Geier) 1:07
Second period: SCSU-Julia Tylke (Jenniina Nylund) 0:55
Third period: 18-Ivy Dynek 17:03
Shots on goal: BSU 14-9-13--36, SCSU 9-7-8--24
Goalies: BSU-Kerigan Dowhy (21 saves); SCSU-Janine Alder (36 saves).