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Ryan Ladika/DND Connor Navrot scored the first of two goals for the Beavers in the Jan. 22 away game at Jamestown.

That the Minot State Beavers men’s hockey team was even able to finish their 2020 Hockey Day with the Jamestown Jimmies was an achievement in itself.

More than a foot of snow that floated through the evening, temperatures that dropped in the teens to the wrong side of zero and adverse ice conditions that extended the contest to a 14-round shootout with a goal of the refused Beavers left mixed feelings in the hearts and minds of Minot State as the team made the return trip northwest.

“Yes, it was hard” said current Beavers head coach Wyatt Waselenchuk, then an assistant coach at Minot State. “We arrived and it was snowing, and we left and it was snowing. But it’s still a fun memory that comes up every once in a while and it was definitely something I was thinking about as we prepared again for this weekend’s game at Jamestown.

Two years later, the Beavers returned to Jamestown in high spirits to face the Jimmies again outdoors in the final of the 2022 Hockey Day festivities in North Dakota on Jan. 22.

Taking inspiration from the St. Louis Blues, who donned beachwear in freezing weather during the 2022 NHL Winter Classic held at the Minnesota Twins’ target field, the Beavers exited the bus before throwing the puck in similar clothes.

“I got a text from (Davis Sheldon and Connor Navrot) the night before, and he was like, ‘Would it be okay if we took a page out of the St. Louis Blues playbook, they got it. made against Minnesota in the Winter Classic,'” Waselenchuk called back. “They said, ‘St. Louis rolled all over Minnesota, how about if we could do the same? I said, ‘Guys, go get two runs, you can do whatever you want .’ »

The Blues beat the Wild 6-4 on the diamond on New Years Day and Minot State had a similar result, edging the Jimmies for the fifth time in six tries this season by a final score of 2-1. Jake Anthony stopped 26 of Jamestown’s 27 shots while Connor Navrot and Jordan Robertson scored their 10th and 9th goals of the season respectively in the second period.

“Besides being damn cold, it worked really, really well,” Waselenchuk said. “They did a good job, seemed to have a lot more event staff available this year to prep the ice and speed up the process through intermissions and things like that. But it was really good to do it in the regulations this year and get back on the hot bus.

Any snow that fell on Saturday night was virtually imperceptible, although the cold conditions still presented a challenge for both teams when the players’ water bottles froze on the bench. Clubs used the bench warmer to thaw drinks and quickly pulled out of the wintry weather after the final horn sounded.

The six youth and high school games that were canceled due to conditions two years ago went as planned on Friday and Saturday, but went a little long, pushing the Beavers’ nightcap back an hour and half.

“I think they had fun” Waselenchuk said of his players. “It was cool, it was cold, but it was nothing we didn’t expect. I think overall it was a very positive experience. I know the guys enjoyed it, there were lots of smiles and winning fixes for a lot of things.

The first-year head coach is hopeful the event can be hosted in Minot in years to come, citing the many programs currently underway in the city and the likely widespread support that would accompany the festivities. A preliminary discussion has taken place with the Minot Park District, but nothing is imminent in this regard.

“It’s a fun event and we certainly appreciate their athletic director and program for putting it together,” Waselenchuk added. “Maybe it’s something we do for next year, to do it at Minot. Make it bigger and better and turn it into an event that we could potentially do one day. They did good work for sure, and we were delighted to be a part of it. It’s a unique experience.

Following a 4-1 midweek victory over the Jimmies in the teams’ final regular-season meeting on January 26, the second-ranked Beavers will host the No. 21 Midland Warriors at Maysa for a set of two games on January 28. -29. The puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. both nights.

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