White Bear Lake girls hockey forward Elaina Hosfield once told a preschool teacher her name was Squish. Asked her full name, the youngster replied, "Squish Hosfield."
Hosfield didn't know her given first name then. Hockey Day Minnesota viewers know her now. Hosfield's first goal as a varsity player built an early lead in an eventual 8-3 loss to Stillwater. The Bears and Ponies met in the first of three outdoor high school hockey games played Saturday at Polar Lakes Park in White Bear Township.
Those games served as the centerpiece of Hockey Day Minnesota, a daylong Bally Sports North production celebrating the state's signature sport. Hermantown defeated Mahtomedi 6-3 in a battle of Class 1A powers. And the White Bear Lake boys game against rival Hill-Murray capped a special day for winners and losers alike.
"It made me happy that I scored on Hockey Day, that it wasn't just a regular game," Hosfield said. "It was really special."
The "Squish" nickname started when Hosfield was a pudgy baby, and it stuck.
"Yeah, everyone just calls me that," she said. "No one calls me by my real name."
Coaches presented Hosfield with "The Mighty Bear" award for player of the game. The large ring was bestowed by assistant coach Randy Kieger, 1983 White Bear Mariner graduate. Kieger was a junior defenseman when the now-defunct Dolphins skated to second at the 1982 state tournament.
A high temperature of 7 degrees meant Saturday was made for layers. One of Kieger's was his blue and gold Dolphins jersey from his playing days. He wore a matching stocking hat. He was an assistant when daughter Kari, a sophomore forward, and the Bears took second in the 2002 state tournament.
Kieger's former defensive partner Scott Brydges played in Friday's White Bear alumni game.
"It's just fun to see the faces," Kieger said. "Brydges was over at the far blue line during that game, just waving his stick. We're pushing 60, so, you know, there's no hustle anymore."
Current players provided ample energy Saturday. Junior forward Brooke Nelson scored four goals as Stillwater turned an unfamiliar deficit into a rout.
"Since the day we found out that we were coming to play, we were counting down the days," said Nelson, whose teammates wore retro jerseys in the style of Stillwater's 2007 state championship team.
Stillwater coach Annie Cashman didn't mind seeing her team trail for the first time in 16 Suburban East Conference games this season.
"If we're going to get behind, I would want it to be in this event with their fans here," Cashman said. "They are very classy people and they are wonderful hosts."
And it wasn't lost on Cashman that White Bear Lake played the Hill-Murray boys but her girls team got to play the Bears.
"We're really, really thankful that they kept it in the Suburban East when they made that choice," Cashman said.
Gratitude was on the mind of Hermantown coach Patrick Andrews as well. The Hawks last participated in Hockey Day Minnesota when the suburb of Duluth played host to the event in 2010. Back then, Andrews was a bantam coach overseeing the shovel crew.
"Moneywise, I don't remember exactly what our budget was, but I mean, we're talking about like maybe a hundred thousand dollars," Andrews said. "And now it's millions. I mean, this is unbelievable."
Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner, partaking in his fourth Hockey Day Minnesota, called the 2023 version the best "by far." A wild comeback by his Pioneers certainly tinted his view.
White Bear Lake held a 2-1 lead into the final minute of the game. A premature release of fireworks led to few "oohs" and "ahhs" but plenty of "What the?" Hill-Murray forward Brady Ingebritson said the display pumped him full of adrenaline.
He converted the jolt into two clutch goals. Ingebritson tied the game with 46 seconds remaining. Then he sent the Pioneers home with an upset victory at 2:06 of the extra period.
Not much has gone right for Hill-Murray this season. A tough schedule and key injuries left the team with a sub-.500 record coming into Saturday's game against No. 9 White Bear Lake. But as so often occurs in rivalry games, the unexpected happened. Hill-Murray improved to 4-0 on Hockey Day Minnesota.
"It's Hockey Day Minnesota against White Bear Lake," Ingebritson said. "You couldn't ask for much better than this."