For the first time a junior hockey game will be part of the Hockey Day Minnesota lineup. And that game will feature the Steele County Blades facing the Minnesota Mullets at the Blakeslee Football Stadium at the Minnesota State University-Mankato campus on Sunday, January 23.

Huge news! We're the first junior hockey team to be a part of Hockey Day Minnesota. We're very excited. I know both teams are very excited to get this going and show everybody what our level of play is like. And enjoy hockey the way it was originally meant to be-outside in the cold.

-Nick Adamek, Steele County Blades Coach

The annual celebration of Minnesota hockey was supposed to be staged in Mankato in January of 2021, but got canceled due to the pandemic, and rescheduled for January 21-23, 2022. This is the first time the event is being held in southern Minnesota.

Adamek said, “Lucky for us, obviously, Mankato go Hockey Day Minnesota…It just so happens, we are lucky enough that the Blades owner is very well connected in the Mankato community.  When the idea of a Juniors Hockey game came up, he approached the committee,” according to Adamek.

The Blades have had a nice rivalry with the Mullets, who are based in the Twin Cities, and play their home games at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. "It was very important that we play another Minnesota team. The way Chris Walby, the head coach of the Mullets, and I work with each other, it was a no-brainer to see if they'd be interested in doing it...It's been a whirlwind as we try to navigate how this is all going to go down."

While outdoor hockey is part of growing up for many in the north, the Blades also have players from warmer climates on their roster, "Our Australian, Connor Lee, is quite excited. He's never done anything quite like this before."

The showcase college hockey game will feature Minnesota State University-Mankato hosting a new Division I program, St. Thomas, Saturday night January 22. High school games on the outdoor ice at the Mavericks football stadium are also part of the schedule.

The Blades are seeking host families for their players coming from out of town for the upcoming season. The team reports around Labor Day with the season starting in late September. Their home opener at Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna is Friday, October 8.

Hockey Day Minnesota is a partnership with the Minnesota Wild and Bally Sports North, sponsored locally by the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic.   For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Michelle Schooff at 612-747-0002.  Hockey Day Minnesota Mankato is a 501 c-3, with Mankato Area Foundation as the fiscal sponsor.

**This post has been edited from a previous version to reflect the fiscal sponsor of the event and events leading up to the Steele County Blades' inclusion in the event itself.**

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