By Ren Clayton

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — “The State of Hockey” keeps producing sold-out hockey games.

The NHL Winter Classic was Saturday at Target Field, and Sunday the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the University of St. Thomas Tommies met up for an exhibition.

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No, they weren’t outdoors, but playing hockey inside South St. Paul’s Doug Woog Arena is another classic Minnesota experience.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Jack Barzee, a former hockey scout in attendance. “I have a lot of history in this building. I spent a lot of years scouting hockey and watching the games here.”

The Gophers are in their 101st season, while it’s the Tommie’s first as a Division I program. This was their first-ever matchup.

“For me to see all this at my age … I wish I had another 80 years to get going again,” said Barzee.

(credit: CBS)

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Two D1 teams from the State of Hockey, and from the Twin Cities, playing in front of a sold-out crowd.

“For us, we’re just hoping that we can build a program similar to what some of the other programs have built in the state,” said St. Thomas Athletic Director Phil Esten.

St. Thomas and Minnesota have already matched up in swimming, with contests in track and field and baseball still to come. The women’s hockey teams will play a two-game series this coming weekend. Sunday’s game is another step forward for the purple and white.

“At some point in time we’re gonna play against the Gophers in sports like hockey and some other sports, so it’s nice to be able to do it under these premises,” said Esten. “An exhibition game, coming out of the holidays, let the guys get their skates back under them.”

A potential rivalry in the very early stages.

“There are a lot of different components that go into the equation, the formula to come out with a successful schedule, and I think we’d love to see Minnesota on the schedule with regularity, and that’s between Coach Motzko and Coach Blasi as they put these together in the future,” said Esten.

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All the proceeds from the game went to charity. The Gophers won 5-2.

Ren Clayton