The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 16, 2014

College hockey notebook: MSU women set for outdoor game

MANKATO — Lauren Barnes said that when her brother Tyler, a player for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team, got to play in the Hockey City Classic outdoor game a year ago in Chicago that “it was something he bragged about.”

“It was an exciting moment in his life,” she said.

That sibling one-upmanship didn’t last very long, however.

On Friday, Barnes, a senior for the Minnesota State women’s team, gets her chance to play outside, as the Mavericks take on Minnesota in this year’s Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“Our parents are pretty excited,” the Burnsville native said.

The Mavericks and Gophers will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday, the first game of a doubleheader event. The nightcap will be a men’s game between Minnesota and Ohio State. Game time temperature for the women’s game is expected to be about 12 degrees, MSU coach Eric Means said.

“It should be a great experience for our team, being involved in something like this,” Means said.

Means and his players said game preparation isn’t too much different than it is in a normal week, and, despite the novelty, it’s an important WCHA game against the nation’s top-ranked team. The Mavericks will practice on the outdoor rink tonight.

“Obviously it’s going to be a little different, a little more exciting than usual,” senior Kari Lundberg said. “Minnesota is a very good team, and we’ll prepare like we normally do so we’re able to give them our best. ...

“And you never know what could happen outdoors.”

Barnes and Lundberg, a Woodbury native, said much of the excitement comes from the recent popularity of outdoor hockey events, such as the National Hockey League’s annual Winter Classic, as well as other college events, including Boston’s Frozen Fenway at the Red Sox’s Fenway Park.

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