Denfeld News

Jan. 3, 2011
Duluth News Tribune

Duluth East, Central whoop it up at Amsoil Arena
By Lisa Baumann

Even if they didn’t have Gov. Mark Dayton dropping the first puck as he did for the first UMD hockey game at Amsoil Arena last week, high school hockey players had plenty of their own fanfare when they got the chance to suit up there Monday night.

If it wasn’t enough to watch Duluth East and Duluth Central compete for the last time ever, a man on stilts known as Too Tall Ike also skated a couple of times around the rink. East and Central students competed in a tricycle relay on the ice. Then there were the two pie-eating contests, the first involving students and the second among staff from the two schools.

East senior Neal Walsh won the student competition and joked while blaming the Duluth East athletic director for roping him into participating.

“I inhaled most of it,” he said when asked how he managed to win.

Walsh and Nathan Pratt, a fellow East senior, both said the new arena is great for watching hockey.

“It’s awesome for a college arena,” Pratt said.

Even the pep bands at the event got in on the fun, playing louder than ever before because both high school bands attended — banding together even — just for the evening.

Clarinet player and Central junior Spring Johnson enjoyed the added energy of the songs.

“The rivals, everyone against each other makes it fun,” she said.

But not all band members were thrilled about playing alongside their rivals.

“Tonight is the night we come together as one,” said Maggie Cretens, a sophomore at East.

“No,” her friend and Central junior Becky Fulda retorted with a smile.

The high school choirs also joined together, standing together in a circle on the ice to sing the national anthem.

A variety of exhibitors lined the concourse including Pucks Against Poverty, a campaign by Community Action Duluth to raise awareness of the issues faced by working poor families in the Northland. It proved to be one of the more popular stations as it offered face painting and a chance to shoot a puck into a goal for those who made a small donation.

East fan and hockey player Jaxon Halligan, 8, was having his face painted during the first period of the game.

His favorite part of the arena? Its size.

“They really put thought into the place,” he said. “It’s really big.”

He also seemed amazed at all the activities going on besides the game.

“It’s just crazy that they set all this up for us,” he said.

Cretens said she and her friends enjoyed the added features of the one-time game as well.

“It’s a special one,” she said of the event.

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