It was a perfect sunny afternoon in Minnesota for an outdoor NHL Stadium Series Alumni game this weekend past. The sun was shining on TCF Bank Stadium with 37.992 fans cheering loudly as Espanola Express head coach Tom McCarthy skated onto the ice with his fellow teammates from the past. The game featured retired NHL players from the Minnesota North Stars / Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks. There were many stars from the past that we grew up watching on Hockey Night In Canada and they were back together again on the ice for an entertaining game, but most importantly Tom McCarthy was back with his NHL friends playing hockey once again in Minnesota where he was a first round draft pick in 1979 and amassed 321 points in 386 games in 7 seasons.
Last Saturday was a day that coach Tom will never forget and the entire Express staff, players and fans have never been so proud of their Head Coach and were thrilled for his opportunity to reunite again and be on top of the world one more time even if it was just for the weekend. There were memories being created on a shift-by-shift basis as afternoon turned into night; each feat followed by a huge smile from the player and a cascade of applause from fans happy to celebrate their hockey culture. “It was a night none of the players would ever forget”, said goalie Don Beaupre.
Now the fun is all over and it is back to work as usual in Espanola as Coach Tom settles in and focuses on the task at hand as his team is in a playoff race down the stretch with 5 games left, 1 game in hand and 3 points up on the Blind River Beavers for the final playoff spot in the west.