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Men’s hockey on the big stage at Minnesota hockey day in Warroad 

MOORHEAD — The small northern Minnesota town of Warroad was abuzz last week for the annual Hockey Day Minnesota. The town hosted 13 outdoor games over three days ranging from high school all the way up to the NHL. This year the Cobber Men’s hockey team was invited to take part in the festivities, squaring off against St.Olaf.  

“Playing in hockey day Minnesota is an honor, being from Minnesota it’s always been a dream to play in the event,” senior goalie Matt Fitzgerald said. 

“It feels surreal, something I’ve always watched on TV growing up as a kid. Feels really special to be a part of this great event,” junior forward Mason Plante said. 

“Feels great. There is a ton of excitement around this game and event. We’re very honored to be a part of such a great weekend,” head coach Kirk Olimb said.  

The environment was definitely different from a typical Concordia hockey game. Not only was the game played outdoors but it was broadcast on live TV for the whole state. 

“The environment plays a big role in a game like this, you don’t really know what to expect from the ice and you are also trying to stay warm,” Fitzgerald said.  

“Playing outdoors will be the biggest difference. From the forecast, it looks like the weather should be decent, which is huge. I imagine there will be a good crowd and the atmosphere should be great,” Olimb said.  

Just three days prior, the Cobbers had already beaten St.Olaf 5-4 and were looking to repeat that success on the big stage. 

“We are expecting a win of course! We know they will come hard against us especially with how the playoff race is and with us beating them the last game, but we have all this energy, fresh jerseys that are awesome, I think it’s going to be a fun hockey game,” Plante said. 

“Looking for another win! St. Olaf is a great team and we’ll have to play our best, but looking for another good result,” Olimb said.  

Puck drop was at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26. The opening period didn’t go how the Cobbers hoped, as they fell behind 2-0 after goals from St.Olaf Forwards Tyler Green and Joey Kennelly. 

Concordia’s defense settled in during the second period. They were able to get on the board with less than three minutes remaining on a goal from junior forward Hanson O’leary. Heading into the final period the Cobbers still trailed St.Olaf 2-1. 

The third period was uneventful until the Cobbers offense exploded scoring three goals in less than three minutes. The first goal came from junior center Isaac Henkemeyer-Howe, with junior forward Hunter Olson tacking on the other two goals. Concordia’s defense clamped down the rest of the way in less than five minutes of play and the Cobbers turned what was looking like a narrow loss into a convincing 4-2 win.   

The team was excited to come away with a victory, but playing on hockey day was about more than just winning or losing. 

“For this experience I am just looking forward to enjoying the moment with my teammates. Growing up we all played on the outdoor rinks with our friends so it brings back childhood memories and reminds us why we play the game,” Fitzgerald said. 

“Just looking to enjoy the moment. Being from Warroad myself, going home and being a part of this weekend is extremely special for me personally. For the team, just hoping it’s a memory that will last a lifetime, for guys in the lineup as well as for those who are not. Just being around the team in such a terrific setting is a special moment for us all,” Olimb said.  

The team was also able to stick around and enjoy some of the other games being played. 

“We will also be watching the Moorhead vs. Wayzata game and the Warroad vs. Roseau game on Saturday,” Fitzgerald said.  

Concordia is now on a two game winning streak and holds a 10-7-2 record on the season. Their next game will be at the Moorhead Sports Center on Friday Feb. 2 against Augsburg University at 7 p.m.  

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