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Whitecaps win United States Hockey Hall of Fame Museum’s Women’s Face-Off Classic

By Staff, 10/27/10, 10:15PM CDT

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If you haven’t been to Eveleth, Minnesota to visit the United States Hall of Fame Museum (USHHFM) lately you are missing a fantastic experience. Before the USHHFM’s Women’s Face-Off Classic game Friday night, both the Bemidji and Whitecaps teams were invited in to the museum to stroll around the 2-1/2 floors of US hockey history.

In 2004 new exhibits were added, including the Herb Brooks exhibit covering much of first floor. When leaving the lobby and the theater area, you go up the first flight of stairs to the first floor. There you will see the 1954 Willie’s Jeep that was made into the bright blue Zamboni, serial number 4. This Zamboni was used for the Ice Capades at one time years ago, and was in a terrible fire. It was fixed up, re-painted and donated to the Hall of Fame by Mr. Frank Zamboni. Beyond that, you’ll see the newly added “Tribute to Herb Brooks” exhibit. Many never before seen items are on display here. The photo’s and items on exhibit are wonderful! The “Wall of Fame” which has etched plaques of all Enshrinees, sits high on a stage-like floor. The Wall honors the USHHFM enshrinees including Cammi Granato, who was the first female enshrinee inducted just two years ago in 2008. She was inducted again in 2009 along with the 1998 Women’s Hockey Team. The top floor exhibits include many hands on areas like touch-screen kiosks and Top Shot Hockey, as well as a radar gun to check the speed of your puck when hit. A Women’s Hockey exhibit including USA Olympic worn jerseys from current Whitecaps Jenny (Schmidgall) Potter and Krissy Wendell-Pohl is also on this floor. Next to that is the Minnesota High School Hockey area featuring many pictures and hockey programs from the girls state high school tournaments. All of these exhibits are a must see for every avid hockey fan. One of the newest exhibits on display will be one honoring the Minnesota Whitecaps Hockey Club featuring the Western Women’s Hockey League Championship Cup.

We left the museum to walk into another US Hockey icon, the Eveleth Hippodrome, the oldest hockey rink in the United States. It looks like an extension of the museum with large black and white pictures of old time hockey stars covering the foyer walls and hallways. It was like walking back in time with the American Legion members working the concession stand and a $1.00 raffle hosted by the USHHFM. Entering the ice rink the wooden bench seats added to the experience. The lineup is announced with both teams skating to the blue lines when Whitecaps and former Bemidji Beaver Jenny Schnickel was announced. The Bemidji team took notice of their alumni opponent as conversation arose on the bench along with cheers from the crowd.

Other familiar faces playing on both teams hail from Roseville, Minnesota. Whitecaps Winny Brodt-Brown and Chelsey Brodt-Rosenthal and Bemidji players Erin Cody and Allie Duellman, all four Roseville High School graduates. The head coaches from both Bemidji and Whitecaps also have a Roseville connection. Whitecaps President and Head Coach Jack Brodt Jr. raised his family in Roseville as did Bemidji Beavers Head Coach, Steve Sertich with their kids growing up playing hockey on the rinks together.

The puck dropped at 7:00 pm on hard fast ice where play was back and forth with no score until the end of the first period with a quick shot by Allie Thunstrom from Amy Stech and Jenny Potter for a 1-0 lead. A special presentation occurred during the first intermission. Whitecaps captains Winny Brodt-Brown and Jenny Potter presented the WWHL Championship Cup to the USHHFM curator Tom Sersha to add to the newest exhibit honoring the Minnesota Whitecaps. This gives a place for the WWHL Championship Cup to call home until this upcoming season championship matchup in March 2011. Second period play started out fast and furious until half way through the second period when Whitecaps Iya Gavrilova sliced one past Bemidji goalie Alana McElhinney, giving the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead. Whitecaps Jenny Potter pounded the back of the net from Iya Gavrilova and Winny Brodt-Brown for a 3-0 lead. Bemidji continued to put on the pressure with Jamie Hatheway scoring on Whitecaps goalie, Sanya Sandahl with under a minute left in the second period. The third period was hard fought and continued at the same quick pace as the first but went scoreless leaving the Whitecaps in the lead to win the game 3-1. The Whitecaps took home the trophy for the 3rd Annual Women’s Face-Off Classic , sponsored by the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Museum.

Game two of the series with Bemidji was held at the new Peter’s Rink at the Bemidji Regional Event Center. This was a weekend for history because the Bemidji rink also has a museum type look to it with the murals of prior Bemidji Beaver hockey stars on the walls and lower level halls and entryways. Bemidji Beaver hockey greats like Charlie Brown, who was a Bemidji All American and 1972 USA Hockey Olympian. Charlie’s life size picture is located both downstairs and in the main level mural as is Bemidji Beaver’s head coach Steve Sertich.

Being home ice for the Beavers, the atmosphere was louder, the ice was softer and slower as was the pace of the game. Whitecaps started out strong scoring the first goal of the game at 8:59 in the 1st period. Throughout the rest of the game the four lines of Bemidji wore out the spars lineup of the Whitecaps. With two lines playing the night before in Eveleth the Whitecaps were able to somewhat fill their tanks by adding a third line of forwards but that didn’t seem to help them get the goals they needed to keep up with Bemidji. The Beavers MacKenzie Thurston scored first leaving the game tied at the end of the first period. Bemidji gained a head of speed in the second period with two goals from Emily Erickson and one goal from Erin Cody to give them a 4-1 lead. Whitecaps goal tender Megan Van Beusekom-Sweerin held off 13 more shots in the third period allowing one more goal from Bemidji’s Emily Erickson ending the game with the 5-1 win going to Bemidji. This was Megan’s second time back in the net after delivering her first child just two and a half months ago. That in itself is impressive.

After the game everyone piled into their cars and began the 5 hour drive back to their homes. Traveling through Grand Rapids the local police met me at the Subway parking lot granting me the honor of an administrative ticket. I am still not sure what I did to earn this honor but I know the next time the Whitecaps travel up north we will be stopping at the subway in Walker instead.

The next games for the Whitecaps are Halloween weekend starting with the league home opener against the Manitoba Maple Leafs on Friday October 29, 7:00 at the Blaine Super Rink. The second game in the series will be held on Saturday, October 30th at 4:30 pm at the Rosemount Community Center. On Halloween day, October 31st the Whitecaps will be at the Chisago Lakes Ice Arena at 12:30 pm to finish the series with the Manitoba Maple Leafs.