Welcome, hockey fans, to the second week of the inaugural Puck Drop Sweet Sweaters competition. We’ve received photos of fans’ favorite hockey jerseys and the stories that accompany them, and narrowed the field to 16 for an NCAA-style tournament.
We have four regionals named after Minnesota hockey legends – Brooks, Sandelin, Ikola and Darwitz/Wendell. Last week, we played out the Sandelin Regional, with a 1960 U.S. Olympic jersey worn by gold-medalist Rod Paavola and submitted by his son, Boyd, emerging as the winner.
This week, we’ll play out the Darwitz/Wendell. The tournament commissioner, Puck Drop editor Randy Johnson, picked the field and seeded the regionals. The Puck Drop team also consists of editors Joe Christensen and Jim Foster, and they’ll join Randy in voting on which entries advance all the way to the Sweet Sweaters Fabulous Four.
1. White Bear Mariner High School, Doug Potthoff vs. 4. Mastodons beer league champs, Tom Mclaughlin
Story lines: It’s always great to see sweaters from high schools that no longer exist, and Doug submitted this beauty from Mariner High, which was open from 1972-83. In 1982, the Dolphins beat Cloquet and Hibbing to advance to the state championship game before losing to Edina. … The jersey Tom sent in holds a special place in his heart. His Mastodons won their league championship in 2016. “The beer never tasted better,’’ he said.
Winner: Mastodons, 2-1
Randy’s vote: It’s tough to vote against a beer league championship, but the combination of a now-closed high school and a team nicknamed the Dolphins sealed it for me. Mariner wins.
Joe’s vote: This is that first-round matchup that goes triple OT. Tough call. Mastodons win on strength of guy drinking from the cup.
Jim’s vote: Classic matchup of a real team that’s extinct vs. a team with a logo of an animal that’s extinct. I’ll go with the better extinct logo – the Mastodons.
2. Memphis South Stars, Doug Christie vs. 3. Rochester Mustangs, Doug Bartholomew
Story lines: Christie plays for a beer league team in Memphis, and they modeled their sweaters from the South Stars, a former farm club for the Minnesota North Stars in the late 1960 that briefly included Lou Nanne and Bill Goldsworthy. “We were looking for a jersey that would fit our age group while invoking youthful memories and our location,’’ Christie said. … The Rochester Mustangs sweater is from the team’s USHL days in the 1980 and is “signed by Lou Nanne and blood-stained for character,’’ Bartholomew wrote.
Winner: South Stars, 2-1
Randy’s vote: Tough call between two old-time gems. South Stars prevail.
Joe’s vote: I saw the Mustangs play once and am biased, but that vintage one is a beauty.
Jim’s vote: The South Stars is what the traitorous Dallas franchise should be called. And that’s the jersey I’ll choose, the South Stars.
No. 4 Mastodons beer league champs vs. No. 2 Memphis South Stars
Winner: Mastodons, 2-1
Joe’s vote: That South Stars jersey is a gem and fought its way through a hard regional here.
Jim’s vote: It comes down to a logo shootout between the elegantly simple South Stars and the finely detailed Mastodons, with the Mastodons prevailing with a puck past a screened goalie.
Randy’s vote: No. 4 seeds have made their marks in the NCAA tournament – see Minnesota Duluth, 2018 – and the Mastodons make it to the Fabulous Four with a stunner over the South Stars.
We’ve filled half of our Fabulous Four field. Next time, we’ll play out the Ikola Regional.