Jordan Leopold and Keith Ballard renew their fight in the Border Battle this weekend when the former Gophers hockey stars face off against the Badgers.
The rivals’ alumni will face off at Stillwater’s Lowell Park along the St. Croix River and the state border for Minnesota Hockey Day on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The matchup will reunite some of the program’s all-time great skaters and feature players spanning from the 1980s to the late 2000s. The Gophers roster features 11 former NHL players, including former Hobey Baker Award winner Leopold and Wild defenseman Ballard.
Troy Riddle, Erik Wendell, Lance Pitlick, Ryan Kraft, Mike Anderson and Tony Lucia are among the former Gophers that will skate Saturday. The team will be coached by Mark Bahr, Jim Boo, Bill Butter and Lou Nanne.
The Badgers alumni roster features seven former NHL players led by Sean Hill, Barry Richter, David Tanabe, Adam Burish and Paul Ranheim. Wisconsin will be coached by Jeff Sauer.
Leopold, 36, told Minnesota Hockey Magazine he has not spent much time on the ice recently, but he’s not worried.
“I’ve kind of taken a good eight months off of hockey just coaching my kid,” Leopold said. “I haven’t really worked out a bunch but, you know, when you go out there it’s like riding a bike. The muscles may be a little bit sore but more than anything it’s the laughs, it’s seeing the guys, having a couple adult beverages, it’s all about good fun.
“We don’t get to see each other that much anymore. We all have kids, lives jobs. Then you’ve got guys on the other side who I grew up either watching or playing against too.”
Gophers assistant coach and former player Grant Potulny and former Gophers captain Bill Kohn help contact alumni and build the rosters. Former Badgers player Tom Sagissor also helped organize the event.
"Both teams are going to be loaded up with ego and pride, and I don't think anybody is going to leave anything out on the ice after the game," Sagissor told the Wisconsin State Journal. "I think it's going to be a lot of pride and a lot of fun. At the end of the game, everybody's going to shake hands and go have a beer. But I think it'll be a chance for us to really enjoy the spirit of the rivalry."
Friday’s other matchups include a Police vs. Firemen game and a scrimmage between the Minnesota Whitecaps women’s pro hockey team and the Korean national team.
Minnesota Hockey Day’s Saturday lineup includes two boys’ and one girls’ high school games, and one women’s college hockey game scheduled for outdoor action at Lowell Park. The Gophers and Badgers play at 5 p.m. in Madison, Wis., and the Wild host the Ducks at 8 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center. All of Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Fox Sports North and FSN Plus.
Alumni game full rosters.