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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Holiday Tournaments

Let's see.  There's shopping.  At some point, the decorations have to come down and the lights have to be put away. There's college football bowl games on TV. And fans looking for basketball and hockey tournaments will be happy this week with several events dotting the landscape this time of year.

Men's basketball teams in the North Central Conference used to participate in the popular NCC Holiday Tournament held annually in Sioux Falls, S.D. 

The event was a three-day, eight-team post-Christmas affair that drew good crowds at the Civic Center. The tournament enjoyed a successful 24-year run from 1965-89 before eventually coming to a halt after the NCC created a postseason tournament.

The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference began its iteration of the Holiday Tournament in Sioux Falls in 2008, which ran around Thanksgiving for a couple of years, and not unlike the NCC vehicle, was discontinued due to league teams also faced with scheduling complications due to league postseason competition.

Since joining the NCAA Division I men's hockey ranks, the Minnesota State men's hockey program has played in Holiday tournaments hosted by Vermont (2000-01 and 2003-04), Ohio State (2004-05), Notre Dame (2010-11) and the University of Connecticut (2012-13).

Years before, as a member of Division II, the Mavericks hosted a holiday event of their own during the 1982-83 season when then-head coach Don Brose convinced teams from St. Olaf, Hamline and Alaska-Anchorage to venture to All Seasons Arena for the Mankato Schriners Christmas Tournament. Not unlike other college Holiday tournaments, this was a post-Christmas affair played on a Wednesday (Dec. 29) and Thursday (Dec. 30).

Alaska Anchorage, which joined the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 1993-94, downed St. Olaf by a 6-0 margin to open the tournament and the host Mavericks followed by galloping to a 9-4 triumph over Hamline.  St. Olaf bounced back in the third-place game by beating Hamline 11-7 and the Seawolves emerged with the first-place hardware in claiming a 5-4 victory over MSU in the championship finale.

"It's one of those things where we were still trying to generate some notoriety for  the program here in Southern Minnesota back in the early 1980s," said Brose. who served as MSU's bench boss from 1969-2000. "Unfortunately it was only a one year deal when we tried it. But I thought it was a good idea at the time as people are always looking for things to do during the holidays."

It's great to be a Maverick!

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