The boys’ hockey programs from St. Paul Johnson and North St. Paul will play each other Thursday in the first game held at Tria Rink, the Minnesota Wild’s practice facility in downtown St. Paul.
The location of the game, beginning at 7 p.m. atop the Treasure Island Center, began as one player’s class project. Johnson forward AJ Austin dedicated his senior project to getting his Governors a game at the new rooftop rink.
Governors coach Steve “Moose” Younghans said meetings with the Wild began in the spring. Austin, who scored 19 goals as a junior last season, received assistance from the North St. Paul side from friend Kearby Larson, a Polars senior defenseman.
The game is also “Military Appreciation Night.” Austin’s grandfather, a Vietnam veteran, will drop the ceremonial first puck.
Younghans said he hopes the Governors will play a game each season at Tria Rink. The Hamline University men’s and women’s hockey programs have moved their home games to the rink.
The new Treasure Island Center replaced the former Dayton’s and later Macy’s building in downtown St. Paul. The building takes up an entire block at Wabasha and 6th streets.
The rink’s title sponsor, Tria Orthopedic Center, leases 6,000 square feet of space. Tria, which has locations in Bloomington and Maple Grove, has served as the official medical provider for the Wild since the team’s inception.
Thursday’s game marks the second time that Johnson, one of two remaining St. Paul public school hockey programs, enjoyed a regular-season game with some pageantry.
In November, the Governors defeated fellow city public school Highland Park in the inaugural St. Paul Cup game. They took home the pewter cup, purchased in Scotland by Jay O’Neill, a Johnson graduate. His son, Aedan, is a Scots senior defenseman.