Welcome back, hockey fans, to our 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. So far, we’ve played out the Sandelin, Darwitz/Wendell and Ikola Regionals. Emerging to the Sweet Sweaters Fabulous Four are a 1960 U.S. Olympic jersey worn by gold-medalist Rod Paavola and submitted by his son, Boyd; a beer league championship team named the Mastodons submitted by Tom Mclaughlin; and a Minnesota Warriors sweater submitted by Michael Ullmer and Roger Fredsall.
Today, we’re playing the Brooks Regional. 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 to the Fabulous Four.
1. Minneapolis West High School, Joe Rockhead vs. 4. Bankers Cup charity, Chris Wendt
Story lines: Joe submitted a 1970s sweater from the Minneapolis West Cowboys, a team that disappeared when the school closed in 1982. “I think it is the best-looking sweater from the old Minneapolis Conference, simple and classic,’’ Joe said. … Chris designed the Banker’s Cup sweaters for a charity event. “I wanted this game to look and feel legit,’’ he said. “Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, our game was forced to be postponed.’’
Winner: Minneapolis West, 3-0
Randy’s vote: A branding iron, cowboy boots and spurs on a hockey jersey? Sign me up.
Joe’s vote: I’m taking Minneapolis West here in a tough first-round matchup. Something I just wouldn’t have expected.
Jim’s vote: Kudos for designing two jerseys plus caps for the Bankers Cup, and although I like them, simplicity rides on to the next round with the Cowboys.
2. St. Paul Rangers, Sammy Casalenda vs. 3. Alexander Mogilny Russian Penguins, Blair Clinton
Story lines: Sammy’s submission is a St. Paul Rangers jersey from the 1960s Central Professional Hockey League. “I used to go watch them at the old St. Paul Auditorium when they were a farm club for the New York Rangers and the great Fred Shero was the coach,’’ Sammy said. ... Blair entered an Alexander Mogilny sweater from CSKA Moscow of the KHL. “I’m a teacher, and this was given to me by my principal, who is Russian. This is definitely my most unique jersey.’’
Winner: St. Paul Rangers, 2-1
Randy’s vote: This is a tough one because both are solid entries. History gives the Rangers the nod.
Joe’s vote: No question the CSKA Moscow jersey is unique, but the slight edge for me goes to the old St. Paul Rangers sweater.
Jim’s vote: Tough call, with the classic Rangers styling vs. the Mogilny sweater. It comes down to logos, and I prefer the skating penguin.
1. Minneapolis West vs. 2. St. Paul Rangers
Winner: Minneapolis West, 2-1
Randy’s vote: An old-school Minneapolis vs. St. Paul matchup. Blame it all on my roots … I’m taking the West Cowboys.
Joe’s vote: Both jerseys make me want to learn more about these teams. The St. Paul Rangers win this one in double OT.
Jim’s vote: Cowboy boots on a hockey jersey is a winner for me.
Our Fabulous Four is set, and next week we’ll have these matchups:
Minneapolis West vs. Minnesota Warriors
1960 U.S. Olympic Team vs. Mastodons