Alumni return to challenge CECThe CEC boys varsity team faced a tough opponent -- it's own former players, many of them current college players
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
It’s an annual tradition for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton hockey programs – the Christmas Eve day game for the varsity teams against the school’s alumni.
Recent program successes meant that the 2010-11 boys varsity had a tall order on its hands last Friday at the CARC – an opposing alumni team loaded with current college players.
WCHA stars Tyler Johnson (Colorado College) and Justin Jokinen (Minnesota State-Mankato) joined up with goaltender Reid Ellingson (Northern Michigan) and defensemen David Brown (Providence) and Austin Hatch (Bethel) for the contest.
Johnson is the WCHA’s third-leading goal scorer in conference games with 10, Jokinen leads the Mavericks in goal-scoring with six, and they led the alumni to a 9-4 triumph over the current ’Jacks in a matchup where the only stats kept were on the scoreboard.
“It was really good to watch,” CEC coach Dave Esse said.
“We had over 20 players back for the alumni, most of them in college. It was fun hockey but the alumni were just flat-out good.”
That will help the current varsity players.
“Our guys got an eye-opening game,” Esse said. “They got to see how good these guys are and to see how fast they move the puck. It was fun for all us, fun to see the guys back and talk about school and how things are going for them.”
Being an alumni game, though, the emphasis wasn’t on some of the more traditional aspects of CEC hockey.
“There was no hitting or anything like that,” Esse said. “It was just pond hockey and wide-open stuff. The emphasis was on fun. I’d like to think we got better from it, but it was tough.”
The fun aspect of the game was in keeping with the holiday season.
“You need to have fun playing this game, it’s competitive enough as it is,” Esse added. “It’s a thing we do each year before Christmas. Some people get wound up about it, but I just want everyone to have fun.”