Puck Drop
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Welcome, hockey fans, to inaugural Puck Drop Sweet Sweaters competition. Over the past month or so, we’ve encouraged people to send us photos of their favorite hockey jerseys and the stories that accompany them. We had a great response and have narrowed the field to 16, with which we will conduct an NCAA-style tournament.

We have four regionals named after Minnesota hockey legends – Brooks, Sandelin, Ikola and Darwitz/Wendell. The tournament commissioner, Puck Drop editor Randy Johnson, has 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.

We’ll start with the Sandelin Regional, with these matchups:

Sandelin Regional

1. 1960 U.S. Olympic team, submitted by Boyd Paavola vs. 4. Mammoths of the Mankato “C’’ League, submitted Steve Bennett

Story lines: The Olympic sweater has deep sentimental value for Boyd, whose father, Rod, wore it as a member of that gold medal-winning team. … Steve’s Mammoths finished last in their league but won their first two playoff games and were two wins from the championship before the coronavirus shut down sports.

Winner: 1960 U.S. Olympic team, 3-0

Judge’s comment: “Tough draw for the Mammoths. That Olympic jersey knocked me off my feet.’’ – Joe

2. Jaromir Jagr Czech Republic, submitted by Joel Olson vs. 3. University of Minnesota Ice Men intramural, submitted by Lance Leupold

Story lines: Joel’s mother is 100% Czech, so there’s one reason for his love for this Jagr sweater. He wears it once a year – Sept. 28 for the St. Wenceslaus celebration. … Lance’s Ice Men jersey was a homemade entry he wore in the University of Minnesota intramural league in 1972 on a team comprised of former Edina High School band members who were on the U’s marching band.

Winner: Ice Men, 2-1

Judge’s comment: “Two great back stories. You’ve gotta love the passion behind a homemade jersey from the 1970s, so the Ice Men advance.’’ -- Randy

Regional final

1960 U.S. Olympic team vs. U of M Ice Men

Winner: 1960 U.S. Olympic team, 3-0.

Judge's comment: “The 1960 gold may be the 'Forgotten Miracle,' but the fact that jersey style keeps reappearing on recent U.S. Olympic squads means it has the thread count to make the Fabulous Four.’’ -- Jim

Next week: We'll play out the Darwitz/Wendell Regional.